11 January 2022 11:41:36 IST

Long-term benefits of the blended learning model


The hybrid model might undergo further mutations paving the way for more sophisticated solutions.

There are moments in history when everything changes permanently, perhaps unrecognisably. The invention of the internet was one such, the digital revolution being the other. The old order changes giving place to the new, but the new journey is often a blend of the before and after.

That is the scenario I envisage in higher education post-pandemic although predictions swing from the mass extinction of colleges and universities to a return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Irrespective, higher education will witness a major revamp, spurring long-lasting changes.

The new normal will likely be a hybrid model where traditional offline teaching and e-learning will go hand-in-hand. The fact that students could return to recordings of online lectures at their own time and pace, especially if they had not fully comprehended a particular class, seems like an important attraction. Other permanent alterations which may stay in the higher education space include:

Augmenting technology

Online classes compelled teachers to devise creative strategies to keep lectures interesting. Audio-Video presentations emerged as a notable feature, enlivening and enriching the educational-material repository. A combination of part-online, part-offline classes in the blended approach paved way for digital technologies to become a powerful supplement to best-practice classroom methods.

Two-way communication

The dynamics of online teaching and learning made the pedagogy interactive, animated, and discussion-driven. Further, to overcome the challenges and potential boredom of online learning, technologically-advanced ways of making the process more interactive are created using sophisticated edtech learning software such as apps, video-conferencing tools, and real-time project co-editing.

More exposure

Online teaching has facilitated courses, curricula, content and teaching methods adopted by premier institutions to be seamlessly disseminated to a vast cross-section of students in tier 2 and 3 establishments, raising overall standards.

Specialist knowledge

The plethora of online webinars, seminars, conferences has provided illuminating exposure to specialist knowledge from domain experts and also generated rich reference material. The online process materialised as an expedient means of setting up meetings or the exchange of ideas and information, leaving academicians more time and resources to invest in research or improve pedagogic standards.


The hybrid model could, crucially, take higher education and skill enhancement into the reach of financially-disadvantaged students by making it more affordable. An institution of higher learning cannot, and perhaps should not, cut corners on infrastructure — in deference to the sciences, sports, research; evidence establishes the role of high-quality infrastructure in all-round student performance. However, the hybrid model empowers ‘product differentiation,’ making cost-reduction possible if specific exigencies so demand.

The hybrid model has surfaced as an interesting example of ‘necessity being the mother of invention.’As the pandemic, hopefully, wanes, it is likely to undergo further mutation and spawn a variety of sophisticated sub-models under the ‘hybrid’ umbrella.

(The writer is Vice-Chancellor, Shiv Nadar University, Chennai.)