The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken an initiative to introduce a blended learning system for higher education in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move has been taken so that Bangladeshi students do not leave behind in higher education as the education system has been introduced in many developed counties.The blended mode of teaching and learning system is a combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional learning) and online learning in a way that the one compliments the other.
Higher educational institutions can allow for teaching up to 40 per cent of each course through online mode and the remaining part of the course can be taught in offline mode.
UGC sources said on May 19, the commission formed a 12-member committee led by its member Prof Dr Bishwajit Chanda for introduction of a blended system for the learning process for the higher education, coordinating between onsite and online education.
The working committee will formulate an initial draft after scrutinising the policies of various countries in this regard, and the central body will review and finalise the policy.
The other members of the committee are UGC members Prof Dil Afroza Begum, Prof Sazzad Hossain, Prof Muhammad Alamgir, Bangladesh Accreditation Council member Prof Sanjoy Kumar Odhakari, Prof Kazi Muheymin-Us-Sakib of Dhaka University, Prof Khademul Islam of Rajshahi University, Prof AFM Saiful Amin of BUET, Prof Mozammel Haque Azad of East west university, Prof Salekul Islam of United International University, Prof Arshad Mahmud Chowdhury of BRAC University and UGC’s SPQA division director Fakhrul Islam.
UGC in its office order said the government approved Strategic Plan for Higher Education in Bangladesh: 2018-2030 for the development of the higher education in the country.It said the UGC formed a monitoring committee regarding implementation of the strategic plan recommended to form a committee for introducing a time-befitting policy coordinating between onsite and online education for the higher education.
The committee already held a meeting on May 27 to prepare a time-befitting policy to introduce the blended education in the country.
Convener of the committee Prof Dr Bishwajit Chanda said the policy will be made to coordinate onsite and online education as the universities can continue academic courses in a post Covid-19 era.
He also said Bangladeshi domestic culture, skills, socio-economic conditions, and global standards will all be taken into consideration in forming the policy.
Meanwhile, the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India also recently took an initiative to introduce the blended education system in the neighbouring country.
India’s UGC also formulated a concept note regarding the blended education and it also sought suggestions and feedback from various stakeholders on the draft concept note by June 6.
According to the concept, the advantages of blended learning for students include increased learning skills, greater access to information, improved satisfaction and learning outcomes and opportunities both to learn with others and to teach others.
The blended education concept gives the acceptability of many modes of learning including that of face-to-face learning, online learning and distance or virtual mode.
Blended learning is not a mere mix of online and face-to-face mode, but it refers to a well-planned combination of meaningful activities in both the modes, said the concept
The blended learning shifts the teacher’s role from knowledge provider to coach and mentor. This shift does not mean that teachers play a passive or less important role in students’ education.
The traditionally, classroom instruction has largely been teacher-directed, top-down, and one-size-fits-all, with a bit of differentiation thrown in, but with blended learning, it now becomes more student-driven, bottom-up, and customised, with differentiation as a main feature.
It must be ensured that required infrastructure for online systems such as accessibility of internet, bandwidth, hardware, space and other related resources be made easily available for the smooth execution of blended teaching-learning process.
The Indian concept of blended education also said during the COVID time, many exams were forced to be conducted in an online mode. These were supported by variety of tools which came into being in recent times and were based on proctoring through artificial intelligence tools.
Talking to the Daily Sun, UGC member Prof Dr Sazzad Hossain said the blended education system introduced in different countries much ago has become popular now due to the pandemic.
“It is true that there is still no alternative to face-to-face education but the developed countries including the UK, Canada, the USA, Japan, and Russia are now favoring the blended education as it create lots of scopes to enhance quality of education,” he said
Prof Sazzad said the traditional face-to-face education must keep in the blended education but the advantage of technology will be utilized in the system to enhance the quality of resources and education.
“The Prime Minister announced a framework to make develop country by 2041 but achieving the goal will be very difficult until development of the country’s universities,” he added.
Welcoming the UGC’s move to introduce the blended education, Prof Quazi Faruque Ahmed, a member of the National Education Policy-2010, told the Daily Sun, “We should introduce an alternative system to keep our education continued amid the pandemic.”
He said, “Many countries across the world are kept their education continued through using different online tools despite the pandemic.”
“We don’t know when the pandemic situation will be improved, so we should find out alternative way of education for the primary to universal level education,” said the educationist.