The new generation of learners – simply referred to as the digital generation – is growing up connected with computers to the world around them along with the generous help of handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.
A positive outcome has been that distance is no longer a barrier when it comes to learning. It is very much possible for rural and disadvantaged students to learn from educationists from leading schools or universities. Similarly, students who may have had to discontinue their studies for some reason can once again look forward to completing a particular course or degree program.
Blended Learning Gains Momentum
Blended learning, which is a form of digital learning that blends together advanced technology and the traditional trainer-led classroom. An example of Blended learning in practice is the Flipped Classroom method where learners are given self-paced learning material, accessible digitally, to go through at home. The classroom, with trained educators, becomes more of a space for learning through application. For a long time, traditional teaching involved teachers in class reviewing homework and presenting new content. On the other hand, flipped focus involves learning new content for students out of class through video and technology.
Blended learning provides access to learning through interactive digital content. Videos, images, and audio can be used to impart lessons by any trainer. The engagement experience of a learner is enhanced than the traditional text-book. The learner can access this content at their own pace, which gives them greater control of their learning progress. In case a learner is stuck at some point in the learning program, they can also reach out to the trainers for support. These factors, multimedia content and ownership are changing the way how the new generation of learners are upskilling beyond the confines of a classroom.
Rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are now a well-accepted mode of teaching and learning, have witnessed a substantial rise. The government as well as private edtech companies are coming up with regular offerings that are free and subsidised, modular and tailored to a specific user’s needs. This way, institutions can connect with a wide variety of students in many varied situations.
Multimedia content and ownership are changing the way how the new generation of learners are upskilling beyond the confines of a classroom.
Colleges can reach students who may have otherwise found the hurdles to higher education difficult to overcome. Colleges can offer MOOCs free to low cost. Students are willing to risk taking a low-cost course rather than paying high tuition fees. For instance, the government of India’s SWAYAM is one such MOOC platform that is cutting across all major academic disciplines.
As they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. While it may be too early to draw any conclusion related to the effect of Covid-19 on the overall education domain, however, it can be said with a certain level of conviction that the long-lasting effect of innovation and digitalization will play a key role in shaping the minds of a whole new generation of learners.