Blended Learning System of Education: TNAU Pioneering the Way


Under the inspiring direction of our Honorable Vice-Chancellor Dr. V. Geethalakshmi, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) stands as a pioneering institution, spearheading the implementation of the blended learning system of education ahead of all the other 74 State Agricultural Universities in India. TNAU has adopted this innovative approach shortly after it was launched by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) under National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP), which emphasizes a commitment to ushering a resilient agricultural education system in India. The ICAR-NAHEP blended learning Portal (BLP) is a method to strategically harnesses technology and collective expertise from various universities, marking a significant leap toward the modernization and strengthening of agricultural education. Dr. N. Senthil, Dean (SPGS) and BLP Nodal officer, took the initiative, leading a team from the office of Dean Agriculture and Dean School of Post Graduate Studies in implementing BLP at TNAU. Additionally, they actively participated in workshops on BLP and E-learning organized by ICAR-IASRI. This report highlights the need, implementation, impacts and future roadmap of the blended learning system at TNAU.  Top of Form

Blended Learning System is the call of the day

At TNAU, the integration of blended learning system has effectively addressed the shortage of subject matter experts and teaching staffs. Blended learning system offers an engaging education methodology with online and traditional classroom learning at once. To make the most of this innovative education system, students actively utilize the smart classroom facilities established well across TNAU campuses. Students connect to the online blended learning class hosted by faculties from other campuses from the convenience of their own classroom. This has ensured equal exposure for students across TNAU to learn from the best experts and diverse teaching methods.

Faculty overseeing blended learning courses are afforded equal opportunities, distributing lectures based on individual interest or expertise. Each teacher contributes approximately 3-4 lectures from their respective campuses. This systematic approach not only addresses staff constraints but also reduced teachers workloads, from the need to deliver all lectures or five units individually. Moreover, this approach enhances the competitive skills among teachers, allowing them to focus on their areas of expertise. Consequently, they can furnish high-quality course materials, ensuring an overall educational experience for students. This nurtures a promising environment for achieving a heightened level of academic excellence.

Blended Learning Strategies and Technology

The Microsoft Teams platform is utilized at TNAU, serving as the hosting and recording tool for blended learning classes. Every course teachers are provided with Teams access, allowing them to schedule and host classes. The hosting teacher schedules and shares the class link with other campus teachers, enabling them to connect their students to the online blended learning class. Students then attend the class at their classroom premises in the presence of their course teacher in their campus. Even though Q&A interactions and doubt clarifications occur after every class, students utilize practical class hours to seek additional clarification on course topics directly from their respective course teachers.

To facilitate self-paced learning, all course materials, including PowerPoint presentations (PPTs), lecture notes, multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and short questions, are uploaded lecture wise onto the course groups created in the Microsoft Teams platform ahead of every class by the course teachers. This organized method allows students, provided with Teams credentials, to access the materials at their own pace. Additionally, recorded lecture videos are shared in the course groups after each class. This systematic approach not only enhances accessibility but also empowers students to engage synchronously with the course content and personalized reading and learning experiences.

The courses completed in the blended learning mode are uploaded, along with their course contents, to the ICAR-NAHEP BLP. In this platform, course groups with descriptions and promotional videos are uploaded to provide an overview of the course syllabus. Modules are then created, with the number ranging from 16 to 32, aligning with the course credits for specific course. For each module, high-quality recorded videos and other course contents are uploaded, and students are assigned to every course. Subsequently, the course is published in the portal for the student to access. In the future, ICAR can offer the TNAU’s top-performing blended learning courses to students across various agricultural universities which aids in expanding access to high-quality educational content.