International Conference

on Blended Learning Ecosystem for Higher Education in Agriculture


The evolution of Blended Learning Ecosystem for Higher Education in Agriculture

Learning is Here & Now

Blended learning, the combination of face-to-face instruction and technology-mediated learning, has become an increasingly popular approach to education globally. The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown created a need for more engaging ways of learning and imparting education. This led to the phenomenal growth of online learning, which in turn has provided the impetus for blended learning in the post-pandemic era.

The Growing Popularity of Online Learning
The Babson Survey Research Group's 2020 report on online learning indicated that approximately 6.9 million students were enrolled in online courses in the United States alone, and the number of students taking at least one online course has been steadily increasing for the past decade (Allen & Seaman, 2020). In India, the statistics indicate a substantial rise in the number of students enrolled in online education programs, with a surge of 170% observed between 2021 and 2022 (Srivastava, 2022). Enrolment in open and distance learning (ODL) programs also experienced a noteworthy increase of 41.7% during the same period. These trends are supported by reports highlighting a 38% increase in the number of higher educational institutions (HEIs) that have started offering online programs within the last year.

Figure: Expected growth of online education in India between 2022 and 2027, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~22.26% (Market Research, 2022)

Why Blended Learning

Blended learning combines the flexibility of learning online with the interactivity and in-person engagement of traditional learning. Blended learning allows students to learn at their own pace, on their own time, and in a variety of settings. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the United States, blended learning is most commonly used in higher education institutions, with 84% of colleges and universities offering at least some online courses (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020). Blended learning has also been shown to improve learning outcomes. A meta-analysis of 45 studies on blended learning found that students in blended learning environments had better learning outcomes than those in traditional face-to-face instruction (Means et al., 2013). Blended learning has also been shown to be particularly effective in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), where students may benefit from the interactive and visual nature of digital resources (O'Neal et al., 2018).


Blended Learning as a tool of empowerment for women

Blended learning, a new pedagogical methodology, has gained popularity in higher education recently. Zhang et al. (2008) found that, in most cases, women were more inclined towards blended learning than men.

information sharing. This personal feedback provides a balance to the de-personalized computer-assisted learning unit and compensates for the isolated learning process.

Blended learning is not just characterized by technology, as the integration of group work and in-class phases, along with tele tutoring, can facilitate the "de-technization" of computer applications. This approach can enhance the identification of female abilities, such as creativity, communication skills, and teamwork. The combination of learning scenarios can reduce fears of contact through group dynamics and tele tutoring, which leads to an increase in acceptance of this teaching method. Blended learning can also help women cope with difficulties related to technology and improve their motivation to learn.

Additionally, blended learning can help address the gender gap in technology by providing women with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in various fields. Women are underrepresented in technology-related industries, and this gap can be reduced through programs that offer blended learning. By providing a supportive and collaborative learning environment, blended learning can empower women to take on leadership roles and succeed in their careers.

Challenges in implementation

However, the implementation of blended learning is not without its challenges. In a study of blended learning in higher education, instructors reported challenges related to technical issues, student engagement, and managing course content (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). Additionally, blended learning may exacerbate existing disparities in access to technology and resources for students from disadvantaged backgrounds (Dolan et al., 2018).

Despite these challenges, the benefits of blended learning have made it an increasingly popular approach to education globally. According to a report by Research and Markets, the global market for blended learning is expected to reach $12.81 billion by 2023 (Research and Markets, 2018).

As the world's population continues to grow, the importance of agriculture has become more apparent than ever. In India, agriculture is a critical part of the economy, providing employment to millions of people and contributing significantly to the country's GDP. As the industry has evolved, so too has the need for education and training in agriculture. The evolution of blended learning ecosystems has enabled higher education in agriculture to become more effective, efficient, and accessible for students in India.

The Importance of Blended Learning Ecosystems in Indian Agriculture Education

In India, agriculture education is critical to the success of the industry. The country is home to some of the world's most fertile farmland, and agriculture plays a significant role in the economy. However, the industry faces several challenges, including a lack of modern technology and infrastructure, limited access to financing, and a shortage of skilled labor. Blended learning ecosystems can help address these challenges by providing students with access to the latest technologies, resources, and training.

Benefits of Blended Learning Ecosystems in Indian Agriculture Education
  1. Access to a Wide Range of Resources: A blended learning ecosystem provides students with access to a wide range of resources, including online lectures, simulations, and case studies.
  2. Increased Flexibility: Blended learning ecosystems offer students greater flexibility in terms of learning time and pace. This allows students to work around their schedules and learn at their own pace.
  3. Hands-On Experience: Blended learning ecosystems enable students to gain hands-on experience through simulations and other digital resources.
  4. Reduced Costs: Blended learning ecosystems can reduce the cost of education by eliminating the need for expensive textbooks and reducing the need for travel.
  5. Improved Learning Outcomes: Blended learning ecosystems have been shown to improve learning outcomes by providing students with more engaging and interactive learning experiences.

In conclusion, the evolution of blended learning ecosystems can enable higher education in agriculture to become more effective, efficient, and accessible for students in India. By providing access to a wide range of resources, increasing flexibility, offering hands-on experience, reducing costs, and improving learning outcomes, blended learning ecosystems have the potential to revolutionize agriculture education in India. As the industry continues to evolve, it is essential that educators embrace this approach to ensure that students are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the agriculture sector.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2020). Digital learning compass: Distance education enrollment report 2017. Babson Survey Research Group.

Dolan, R. P., & Connelly, S. (2018). Disrupting class, but not inequality: The role of race, gender, and socioeconomic status in MOOCs. Harvard Educational Review, 88(3), 365-393.

Garrison, D. R., & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95-105.

Market Research (2022). Online Education Market in India 2022-2027.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R. F., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2013). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. US Department of Education.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Fast facts: Distance learning.

O'Neal, C. W., Quinlan, J., & Supanc, M. (2018). Blended learning in STEM: A review of emerging research. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 50(3), 290-306.

Wiepcke, Claudia & Mittelstädt, Ewald & Liening, Andreas. (2008). Blended Learning Approaches to Enhance Gender Mainstreaming. Asian Women. 24. 21-41.

Zhang,G., Dang, M., Amer, B. and Trainor, K. (2018). Who Favor Blended Learning More: Men or Women? An Explorative Study on Gender Differences. PACIS 2018 Proceedings.

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