Hybrid Schooling - How schools are preparing for this new way of life 10 Mar 2022 Sandy Hooda, Co-Founder, Vega Schools

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There was a time when there was no technology, no devices, no internet and no video conferencing. There were only brick and mortar schools with old fashioned teachers. Teachers primarily taught through one way lectures. Remember any teacher in your school who came into the classroom and read off a book? At times when the teacher  was lazy and would ask students to read off that book. 

From the old school ways, we progressed to smarter modern teachers. Interactive class sessions and smart classrooms. Now, with technology in our pockets, knowledge is at our fingertips. 

With COVID-19 everything changed, physically schools shut down and technology seamlessly took over. 

This not only replaced the physical exiting school switch an online session but all Good schools were able to deliver high quality online lessons. Technology helped a lot, teachers were able to explain all the academic concepts, deliver the academic curriculum and conduct assessments. Where technology could not deliver as much were the intangibles. 

Technology could not help in developing social and emotional skills, something that only happens when children ‘physically’ meet each other and make friends. Relationships provide the most happiness and satisfaction in our lives, and in children’s lives. Children learn to negotiate, listen, speak, build consensus and collaborate from each other and in groups. They learn how to lead and to be led. They also learn values and other behaviours from their teachers. Most of all they are happy when with their friends. They also carefully observe adults around them and imbibe their qualities, through their ‘mirror neuron’. All this is very difficult in a virtual setting. 

Physical development also suffered. Staying at home has limitations, children need large and open spaces to move around. Through organised sports at schools children learn resilience, teamwork, grit, and many other valuable skills. 

Way forward

Schools being physically closed has resulted in a big gap - in social, emotional and physical development of children. Only physical experiences can bridge this gap. A lot of time has been lost, and it can be best made up by introducing progressive teaching methods such as experiential learning, inquiry based learning and project based learning. These learning methods deliver academics along with all the social and emotional skills.  

As the pandemic becomes endemic, meaning we are less likely to see global and nationwide outbreaks and more likely to see localised outbreaks which may again result in shorter term school closures. Hybrid schooling is likely to become a way of life where schools will largely operate physically, and on occasion, virtually. There is no substitute for a physical school however the academic gap will continue to be narrowed by the virtual piece. 

The best schools in Gurgaon will also shift to more progressive teaching methods - both offline and online. Teaching methods such as Problem based learning which is based on a combination of experiential, inquiry and project based learning may become a necessity to bridge the academic and social emotional gap, moreso as schools go into the virtual mode. 

This is a big opportunity for schools to shift into models of more progressive teaching and learning. Progressive parents need to demand schools adopt these superior  learning methods, especially since we are likely to live in the hybrid schooling era in the future. It is not easy to deliver these superior teaching methods as they require highly competent and trained teachers. They also require substantial investment in people, knowledge and technical skills on the part of the school.

Schools will also need to invest in safety. WHO has created excellent guidelines for schools, which must be adhered to as schools operate in the hybrid mode. Investments in open classrooms, a combination of indoor and outdoor learning zones will become necessary. Ventilation systems, fresh air units and virus free HVAC systems will become essential. 

As always, the power vests in the hands of parents, whose responsibility is to demand and drive excellence. Parents who do so will enable a wonderful learning experience for their children and carve a great future for them. 

For queries or more information you can ‘Ask Vega’ by emailing info@vega.edu.in

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