Hybrid Learning is here to stay: the future of this model in K-12 schools

As the majority of schools just wrapped up another very unusual school year, a new one is set to begin in most countries between the end of the Summer and the beginning of Autumn. 

The global pandemic brought along unpredictable changes, forcing schools to adapt to distance learning for most of 2020 and 2021. This shift didn’t come without challenges, especially in regards to K-12 schools, which, traditionally speaking, were less familiar with virtual learning at a large scale until the COVID-19 outbreak.

Even though we’ll probably have to wait and see what the next school year will look like, one thing is for sure. Up-and-coming forms of digital learning such as the hybrid learning model are definitely here to stay, even in primary and secondary schools.

Differences with Blended Learning and perspectives

While many still think that hybrid learning and blended learning are synonyms, there is a key difference between the two definitions. They mainly differ in the relationship between online and in-person learning.

Blended learning is focused on balancing distance learning with face-to-face interaction. In this type of environment, resources such as videos, podcasts, online lectures, articles and LMS play a complementary role. In a nutshell, EdTech is meant to enhance the in-class learning experience.

By contrast, the online factor is much more prominent in hybrid scenarios. Hybrid learning leans heavily on the remote side and incorporates multiple teaching techniques to create a flexible environment. Asynchronous online material makes an integral part of the main lesson plan, and resources available on the internet are a valuable alternative to in-person materials. What’s more, hybrid learning’s so-called Hy-Flex iteration foresees the possibility of simultaneous one-to-one and online learning, with some pupils attending in person and others following classes from home, while it’s the same teacher to deliver the lesson.

Studies have shown that even though traditional learning is still the preferred option for a number of teachers, several schools and parents strongly support hybrid learning, especially because of its flexibility. Let’s take a closer look at why hybrid learning has not been simply a temporary solution, but it will still be relevant in the 2021/2022 school year.

Why hybrid learning will continue

The first and foremost reason is related to the current global scenario. While each country is running its vaccination campaign at its own pace, it’s still unclear how many younger students will be vaccinated before the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. This brings along a degree of uncertainty for families who want to keep their children safe. At the same time, teachers who are more apprehensive because of underlying health issues can reduce contact with students.

Secondly, thanks to hybrid learning, pupils can learn at their own pace without the pressure of in-person interaction. At the same time, parents can get a greater insight into their sons or daughters’ learning, and teachers can deliver more personalised outcomes, especially for students with specific learning needs. 

Moreover, in hybrid scenarios, learners have an active responsibility to accomplish their tasks. In the long run, this will have a positive impact on the students’ style of learning, helping them develop a self-directed independent approach to education that will come particularly handy in higher studies. Plus, the hybrid model relies mostly on online content, which has proved to be highly effective in terms of engagement and retention

Finally, we can’t underestimate the fact that families who experience financial or logistical difficulties can benefit from having their children learning from home, even if it’s only for a few days per week. 

What schools can do to enhance hybrid learning models

Regardless of the global pandemic, hybrid learning can become an engine for a great change in the world of education. Educators need to learn how to make the best of this approach and welcome it as a positive upgrade for the future that can be beneficial for students, teachers and families. Undoubtedly, hybrid learning can also be applied partially, as schools can decide to incorporate only selected hybrid elements into their programs. 

Of course, the implementation of this model doesn’t come without challenges related to funds, training and inventiveness.

With many schools massively shifting from full online learning to a hybrid format, teachers and principals need to roll out a plan on how to manage their classes. Creating an alternate schedule could be a good way to start, for example.

Furthermore, teachers also need to be provided with targeted training on how to facilitate in-class and virtual learning. Experienced colleagues and senior educators can play a huge role in this respect, helping fellow less-experienced teachers to upskill.

It’s key for IT managers and school administrators to make sure teachers are equipped with the proper tools, devices and hardware to hold classes with the same degree of effectiveness, for both online and in-person lessons. Speaking of IT management, highly qualified staff is essential to support teachers and students with any possible tech challenge that may occur.

In conclusion, it’s also important to keep in mind that hybrid learning models take time to perfect. It could take up to a semester, or even a full academic year to reach an equilibrium, so it’s crucial to maintain a positive attitude among the school staff, students and their families.

Are you a teacher looking for the best device for teaching on a hybrid learning schedule? Are you a school principal willing to equip your students with reliable devices to support their return to school this Autumn? Contact us now and find the solution that fits your needs: acerforeducation.emea@acer.com

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