Blended Learning: A Smart Way of Upskilling During COVID-19

23 July 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented suffering and anxiety throughout the world. While, the normal routine of educational institutions and skill training centers stands affected by the pandemic but on the brighter side, it has provided us with the opportunity to introduce new learning modes and make the education system more resilient. Working on the same lines, GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), CSR arm of GMR Group has introduced an innovative concept of 'Blended Learning' to train school/ college dropout youth in enhancing their employability skillsets during the duress of lockdown.

GMRVF has been running several state-of-the-art vocational training centers across the nation with prime ones being at Delhi, Hyderabad and Telangana. And, the focus at all these centers is to provide maximum number of youth with adequate education and training which not only improve their skillsets but also ensures employment leading to a safe and secured livelihood. Nation-wide compulsive shutdown affected the normal routine of imparting education and training at the centers. However, with a firm belief to enable livelihood to increased number of families even during the toughest times of Covid-19, GMRVF customized online training classes, which could be accessed by the candidates from the safety of their homes. Also, most of the courses were adapted to 'Blended Learning Method'- which combines online educational literature and opportunities for virtual interaction along with physical training (to be conducted once the centers open as per Govt. guidelines).

For this training module, the candidates who are selected are being given online training classes in their respective line of subjects. They are taught Selected Job Role content, Soft Skills, Spoken English and also assessed through Online Assessments during these sessions. Various e-learning platforms are being used to offer these sessions. The courses under blended learning methods include - Drywall & False Ceiling Technician, Excavator Operator, Welding Technician, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technician, Automobiles and Two wheeler repairing, Solar Technician, Electrical House Wiring, Hotel Management (F&B), Computers - MS Office & DTP (Only for Women), and Tailoring. All school and college dropout youth are eligible to join these courses.

Trainers are developing e-classes through YouTube channels, virtual meetings, whatsapp, etc. Content has been developed in vernacular languages for ease of understanding. A system was established for sharing of batch wise weekly lesson plan, training execution as per time table, sharing of relevant documents, study materials, Youtube links and videos. Trainees at Delhi are also taking virtual classes through National Instructional Media Institute (NIMI) setup by Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T). Once the operations of the Centers recommence as per the government guidelines, the practical sessions will be imparted to these candidates.

The courses are also beneficial as they offer students some elements of control over their time, place, path, or pace. Some of the courses such as Retail, Basic Cargo Management, Front Office Associate and Data Entry Operator are being offered completely online. The students enrolled in these courses will be given certificates after conducting assessments through online modes. Through this way of online teaching, skillset development of trainees won't be compromised and would help them improve their professional potential to the fullest.

In Delhi, 165 trainees are undergoing online training in 10 different courses since May 2020. The three centers in Telangana are offering 9 courses to 183 youth in online mode. Delhi Center has also offered a Refresher Module in 9 courses for 132 ex-trainees and in-service candidates under this blended learning model. Further, Delhi center has also facilitated placements for 60 trainees who completed the courses during this lockdown period.