Hybrid: A preferred learning choice over online when considering mental health
Students struggle with various academic issues and dread potential academic failure in today’s fiercely competitive environment. Academic pressure, like other forms of stress, has detrimental and prolonged effects on a student’s mental and physical health when it persists for a long time. According to research, 63.5% of Indian students reported stress related to academic pressure.
A majority of high school students claim that pressure from parents, academic expectations, assignments, exams, and scores are their biggest sources of academic stress. Plus, ineffective teaching strategies, teacher-student interactions, a demanding course load, and unsatisfactory classroom conditions are some other factors that contribute to academic pressures.
This spurs the need to have a stress-free academic environment for students to make them succeed in life. Hybrid learning, a blend of the positives of in-person and online learning, is the potential future academic setup that can facilitate such environments.
Online learning and mental health
The pandemic period drastically altered the education system, much like, it trail blazed other areas of life to a standstill. The education system experienced an immoderate shift from complete offline learning to complete online learning, given that the system then was highly inept in incorporating the sudden switch to technology.
The course of online learning evoked distressed physical health as well as distressed mental health of students. Few major ill-impacts on mental health include-
Apprehensiveness arising from disinterest
All parents know what the students would really do behind the screen during online classes. The students would switch to other apps and pay little heed to what was being taught. This led to procrastination and stress in studies due to the piled-up coursework right before the exam.
Social in-person withdrawal
Face-to-face communication has been critical to human evolution and, in a scenario of complete withdrawal from it, students became disinterested in effective academic participation. Online learning deprived students of the normal, interactive school life that shapes their future personalities. This withdrawal resulted in stress.
Overwhelming screen time
It is well known that increased daily screen usage has been linked to lower psychological well-being, including decreased interest, diminished self-control, increased attention deficits, fatigue, trouble establishing friends, decreased emotional stability etc. And, online learning significantly increased the screen time of students.
Absence of routine and lowered self-esteem
Routine again plays a major role in keeping a person disciplined in life. Within the comfort of one’s bed, online learning made it absolutely impossible for students to remain disciplined. Additionally, multitasking behind the screen during class time lowered the confidence level of students.
How Hybrid learning facilitates mental health
Hybrid learning can reduces stress by-
Reducing isolation through an increased interactive social environment
Healthy relationships are a must to maintain good mental health. Strong relationships can be built in hybrid learning environments. In such setups, instructors can utilise a variety of tactics to get their students involved in collaborative activities. Role-playing exercises, debates about proposed policy changes, discussion groups and collaborative case study discussions are just a few examples of these activities.
Teachers, in such setups, are more encouraging and promote engagement from students who might normally be reluctant to participate and interact in class. The students have time to reflect and respond. Thus, it gives them flexibility and encourages them to improve their mental health. Also, conceptual and factual learning improves their competencies and makes them confident.
Giving more control
24-hour accessibility of learning resources in this setup lessens the stress associated with last-minute access to resources right before the exam. Likewise, the flex model gives more control to students over their learning, making the process of learning stress-free.
Applied approaches in hybrid setups are constantly improving owing to expanded cloud-based potential, improved synergy, and more student and instructor innovation. These approaches foster a dynamic atmosphere, where synergy among students reduces isolation and promotes community feeling.
Teaching through visualisation
Students learn more effectively through visual instructions. They are less stressed, more contented, and more involved. Images and visualisations are a tried-and-true method for reducing stress. New technologies that enable immersive learning and the gamification of education will further aid stress-free learning through visualisations.
The emotional health of students has a significant impact on their academic success. Hybrid learning is one of the many means to minimise stress in academic environments. Many institutions and academia are now using hybrid modes of instruction for their many tempting qualities. However, the real success of the shift to hybrid learning in the future will depend on appropriate faculty development and student participation.
(The author is Mr. Nachiket Bhatia, CEO, DBMCI & e-Gurukul and the views expressed in this article are his own)