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The Future of Education: The Flipped Classroom or Blended Learning?

We are into week 11 of the lockdown and as educators, we have seen days which we never imagined in the wildest of our dreams. The entire experience of education changed overnight. Educators became learners and students were suddenly given those very gadgets (read smartphones and laptops) for which they were earlier cajoled for constant usage. Online education suddenly became the new normal. Many of the faculty adapted very quickly to the situation and got their act together to conduct classes from their homes. The students on the other hand, geared themselves to studying in the comfort zones of their homes. Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, WebEx, Skype, Google Meet, etc – all possible platforms were explored, and a new classroom was created.

IILM University also swiftly adopted technology to ensure that the learning did not stop, irrespective of the lockdown. In fact, IILM went a step further to ensure that almost all the scheduled activities other than teaching were also conducted online, viz mentoring, dissertation guidance, Club activities and placement preparation workshops for the students. The Placement Cell at IILM University leveraged their strong industry connect to get virtual summer internships for their undergraduate and postgraduate students. Faculty mentors at IILM have been continuously guiding and hand-holding these interning students to keep up their motivation levels while working for home.

The Way Forward

As the pandemic situation gets critical, experts around the world are deliberating on the way forward for higher education, anticipating online education to assume greater significance in the coming years. Academicians are exploring the options of the flipped classroom and blended learning to offer an effective learning environment for the students. The author discusses here the case of these two trending topics which are likely to show us the direction, as we prepare ourselves for the forthcoming semesters to welcome the existing and new batches of students.

The Flipped Classroom

Let us take the case of a flipped classroom first. Based on my experience and having heard several online discussions, I feel that the success of the implementation of the flipped classroom lies not only in the orientation of the faculty but also on the ownership of the student in his learning. Until now we as faculty majorly adopted a passive learning approach which was faculty-centric in a lecture mode with the objective of content dissemination. What is required is an active learning approach that is student-centric and works on a collaborative model with the objective of content creation. The flip of the traditional classroom works on this principle. An element of experiential learning is brought in along with academic learning. A robust LMS makes it possible to create a flipped classroom. The conceptual learning is done by the students through the LMS and in the class they are given pedagogical tools to apply that learning – whether it is through a project or a case or a simulation.

This sounds exciting, but how many of our students would seriously come prepared for the class and contribute to the classroom discussion? Given the fact that most of them look forward to an exhilarating experience in college and campus life, academics is the last thing on their mind. Forget students, will we able to orient and motivate our faculty to create a flipped classroom? Moreover, the perception of undergraduate students towards education is different in comparison to post-graduate students. Also, there is a huge effort that is required on part of the faculty for creating online content for the LMS. And last but not the least, LMS comes at an enormous cost. Will institutions be able to afford this massive investment at a time when student recruitments look bleak? Will we be able to restructure our infrastructure for creating this learning environment?

I feel that the answers to these questions will tell us whether we should head in the direction towards flipped classrooms or not.

Blended Learning

Blended learning according to me is a healthy mix of the traditional classroom and online teaching. Technology cannot replace educators – it is an undisputed fact because interaction with the students is a must for learning to be effective. And for this, student engagement in class is particularly important. In fact, for blended learning to be successful, the end objective should be participative learning. Given the low levels of the attention span of our students, it would certainly be a Herculean task in online teaching.

Blended learning is possible if we change some of our existing teaching practices. A differential pedagogy is the need of the hour. An increased use of simulation, gamification, role plays, and case studies in the online classroom setting are foreseen. Faculty preparedness with respect to the design of the course, course learning outcomes, course content, and pre-class groundwork will be of utmost importance. The focus would be on curated content and overload of reading material would become passé. Increased usage of audio and multimedia material by the faculty in the new age online classroom is likely to make the sessions interesting for the students. Faculty would have to design the communication plan for each course and establish certain norms for their class. Class time management would be of great significance. The duration of the classes will also have to carefully deliberated. The planning of the timetables and the schedules will have to be done in such a way that students are excited to attend their classes, rather than feeling compelled.

Whether the future lies in the flipped classroom or blended learning, I believe that facilitators are required to be academically, physically and mentally prepared for their classes going forward. The old teaching practices will have to be done away with. In fact, faculty preparation for each class would decide how effective their session would be. And it is not just about digital literacy, but also the online behaviour while conducting the classes in the new-age classroom. Their mannerisms, their involvement and conduct would decide if students attending are mentally present or only logged in to show their online presence in the class.

Conclusion

Rote learning and the traditional learning approach need to be replaced with a student-centric learning approach while making best use of technology. A hybrid model of teaching is the need of the hour. A meticulous planning is required to ensure that students enjoy their online learning journey rather than feel disinterested. The time has come to innovate the learning pedagogy and create an ocean of new knowledge. It is time to rethink, plan, and prepare.

INTERNATIONAL B-PLAN CHAMPIONSHIP @ IIM KOZIKHODE

New year bought new and unparalleled opportunities for some of the PG1 students where they got a chance to visit the top management institute of India i.e. IIM KOZIKHODE.

Later in the pervious year a workshop on personal branding & entrepreneurship skills was held in collaboration with Makeintern in IILM Gurugram campus itself where almost every PG 1 student participated.  Top 5 students were selected to further represent our college on national level, those students were Akshat Tyagi, Atishay Sobti, Radhika Mishra, Riti Sharma and Simran sarna from PG 1st year.

So under the guidance of  Vishal sir, team was all set to participate in 6th International B-plan championship by Makeintern which was to be held at IIM Kozhikode. Every year teams from reputed B schools come and participate in this event. This year teams from 50 Bschools from all over India came all in, and one such team was from ours i.e. from IILM University.

The dates were finalized i.e. from 1st feb till 4th feb and our team was all set to fly to IIM K with their B-plan model on IWMS i.e Integrated waste management system named BinTraq . Kerela surely a tropical paradise and to add on to that the campus of IIM K was like its own little world situated away from the city and on a hill top and one could see the city lights from above.

Day 1 at IIM k was a magical concert night with legendry musical duo Salim-Sulaiman. It was a good time to break the ice and interact with other teams as well as with the students of IIM Kozhikode, for that moment everyone forgot that they came for competition and was enjoying the moment all together.

The next day was the first round of the competition in which each team was given 5 min to pitch their B-PLAN to the jury followed by the questions from the jury itself. There were in total of 50 team from reputed B Schools and our team from IILM university qualified the first round. We were among the top 16 teams that qualified for the next round which was really a proud moment for the students of IILM university.

The final round was the brief explanation of your b-plan, every team gave a tough competition to each other. Some teams even bought the working model of their business model and some even made detailed videos. This time each team was given just 10 min to briefly explain their business plan.

At the end of the day results were announced and top 3 teams were picked which was from Pune, Hyderabad and Bhopal. Our team didn’t come in top 3 but we got appreciation from panellists, it was a good exposure for the us, and next time they will come back stronger for the competition.

We would like to thank the faculty coordinator CA Vishal Goel sir for helping in organising such a wonderful event and for being a torchbearer for the students during the course of the event. Such opportunities really help students to get out of their comfort zone and explore the world outside their college.

Contributors:                                                                                                                      Faculty Coordinator:

PG1 2018-2020 Batch                                                                                                                 CA. Vishal Goel

Riti Sharma, 

Akshat Tyagi