By 2025, the vast majority of students at all levels will learn through blended and hybrid models, according to the 2022 Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) report by Quality Matters and Eduventures Research. As the walls of traditional classrooms break down, schools and teachers are grappling with what the new norm of education will bring. What does hybrid learning mean? How to get the best learning outcomes? And what are the success stories so far?
In this blog, we will take you through the ins and outs of hybrid learning for a smooth transition to the model. Keep reading!
What is hybrid learning?
Hybrid, blended, OMO, and hyflex are often thrown around interchangeably, so what are we talking about when we talk about these models? In the COVID-19 response–Hybrid Learning report, UNESCO set forth that “Hybrid learning can be defined as a learning approach that combines both remote learning and in-person learning to improve student experience and ensure learning continuity.”
UNESCO set forth that “Hybrid learning can be defined as a learning approach that combines both remote learning and in-person learning to improve student experience and ensure learning continuity.”
More specifically, scholars in the UK outlined eight dimensions that shape blended learning:
Delivery: different modes (face-to-face and distance education)
Technology: mixtures of (web-based) technologies
Chronology: synchronous and asynchronous interventions
Locus: practice-based vs. classroom-based learning
Roles: multidisciplinary or professional groupings
Pedagogy: different pedagogical approaches
Focus: acknowledging different aims
Direction: instructor-directed vs. autonomous or learner-directed learning
Why should I adopt hybrid learning?
As early as 2006, EDUCAUSE pointed out the need for a more “modern” understanding of classroom design–blended learning environments–due to emerging shifts in student learning behaviors. The 2006 book observed that
1) Learning is taking place in and outside the classroom.
2) Collaborative work and social interaction are increasingly driving learning.
3) Students are digital natives who are comfortable learning with technologies.
4) Information comes from non-peer-reviewed online sources.
5) Students are used to learning in a non-sequential manner through multiple devices and media.
6) Students take more initiative in constructing content.
How does a blended learning environment work out in classrooms? Researchers found that even in disadvantaged communities, integrating ICTs in the classroom is great for upskilling learners and enhancing their learning experiences, where technologies can afford greater customization and personalization.
Speaking to personalized learning, for instance, The Moroccan University believed that training systems “should adapt to the needs of students”, and especially, “the approaches that offer the most autonomy to the student, and which are highly praised: hybrid approach, workshops and language laboratory.”
How to assess the effectiveness of my hybrid learning model?
As a general rule of thumb, the SAMR model offers a framework for assessing technology integration in instruction. Going from substitution to augmentation, modification, and redefinition, educators and school IT managers can regularly reflect on the degree of tech use that would best fit current learning needs.
Beyond a solid foundation of technologies, hybrid learning calls for mindful reflection all around. Dr. Andrew Youde, Acting Head of the Department of Education and Community Studies at the University of Huddersfield, brought attention to the role of tutors/teaching assistants. What does effective tutoring look like in a blended learning environment?
Dr. Youde outlined a model of three conceptual dimensions for effective practice.
1) Constructivism: student learning as achieving understanding
We may ask if the tutors associated theory to practice well in structured modules? Are learning objectives presented clearly to learners? Are assessments set up in a way to encourage dialogues?
2) Care/Nurture: the support and nature of the support from tutors
It is worth looking into if the tutors are committed to learner support and encouragement. Are the tutors empathetic toward students and enthusiastic about the projects? Have the regularly and consistently provided support?
3) Instrumentality: other factors that are impactful
We can look into if tutors have basic IT skills? Is there technical support available in the department? Are there mentors for effective use of edtech in blended learning environments?
Best practices and success stories of hybrid learning
Taking a close look at case studies of hybrid learning in New Zealand, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia, UNESCO proposed three best practices from technology integration to pedagogies.
Best Practice #1: Incorporate low-cost technologies that run on alternative sources of power.
At the ASU+GSV Summit 2021, Aaron Lennon, the new VP of CATS Global Schools and former Co-Principal of Yew Wah International Educational School, showcased how Yew Wah transitioned to hybrid learning with a simple setup and went from there.
Best Practice #2: Support educators through Communities of Learning (COLs), basic skill development, and parental involvement.
“I don’t think our teachers are tired because of tech. I think our teachers are tired because of the thousand other things they’re having to do. They are covering such a heavy load for their kids,” said Casey Rimmer, Director of innovation and education technology at Union County public schools.
Best Practice #3: Devise localized education solutions that support immediate needs of children and their families.
Examining the case of specialized French learning, researchers at the University Hassan II of Casablanca observed that it is important to “involve trainers capable of designing well-structured programs enabling learners to exploit their time efficiently.”
As more set out to practice blended approaches, hybrid learning has already witnessed incredible progress and learning outcomes.
In the Summer of 2021, Peking University launched its Global Courses Program with a list of world-renowned institutions including Cornell University, The Australian National University, and Waseda University. With hybrid learning technologies, in the first semester alone, close to 200 students from five continents enrolled in a total of 287 classes.
With one camera capturing the entire classroom and another motion-tracking camera zooming in on the professor, students who are online can also be fully present.
“Our professor came up with eight topics for discussion, encouraging us to form groups with students overseas. And we have been keeping in close touch with students online as well,” Li Yipin, a PKU student enrolled in the program, reported.
Beyond higher education, the hybrid mode has also proven to be effective with younger learners.
In early 2022, Trinity Schools of Uganda began offering hybrid holiday programs to help K12 students stay on track. Within the first three days, the program attracted 50 students, which went up to 160 by the end of the first week.
“So what would happen is that during the physical classes, we switch on the camera, facing the blackboard, and start the lesson. And teachers would teach while attending to the children in the classroom and those logged in online,” introduced Areebabyona Kanyonyore, Administrator of Trinity Schools.
As the school kickstarted hybrid learning and continued to expand its holiday program, Kanyonyore planned to optimize classroom setup with a projector and maybe more cameras.
“I’ll be glad to see how the OMO model turns out because it’s something we are looking at going into and seeing how it benefits education even beyond,” he said.
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