Dr. Aarti Bakshi, psychologist and school counsellor
“All the world’s a stage”, Shakespeare stated. And so, the world knowledge being accessible was a reality with the hybrid classes experience. Thinking out of the box, is needed for a smooth school functioning. Thus, when schools yo-yoed between physical and online learning, or various combinations of the two, a plethora of different learning methods came up. Being resilient, the school systems worked with the pandemic situations as best as they could. Collaboration between parents and teachers, creativity and patience of teachers and perseverance of students worked hand in hand. A rise in hybrid learning occurred.
What is hybrid learning?
Hybrid learning is a way of teaching and learning that combines in-person learning and virtual learning using online tools as learning management systems, video meetings, and self-paced assigned learning. Hybrid serves as a two-way conversation, integrating remote and in-person students in a singular environment, by using a live video of the classroom activities.
Teachers from across the globe were connecting with students. A teacher working in a school in Europe can be a guest speaker for a school in India, on a topic. The hybrid mode saw virtual trips of museums, zoos, parks and even sanctuaries. Professors helped solve scientific problems with a class in another land.
There were tremendous classroom practices, delivering lessons as hit and trials, social medias were flooded with free lesson plans, new app resources, anecdotes of successful teaching and learning systems. All these methods showed the unified goal all schools and teachers had, and that was ensuring student growth. So, we wonder how did the online learning and hybrid classrooms impact students? And let’s keep in mind, the teachers too. Let’s visualise it from different student needs, from three dimensions:
Vishal has a lot to share. In class he felt that he was not being heard all the time as the teacher said that all students had to be given an opportunity. He quiet enjoys online classes where he can type his responses on the chat window. When he does not understand something, he can personally chat with the teacher, who repeats the process. Now in hybrid mode, he has learnt to put it all through on the wonder wall and the ‘drop a question’ chart. Vishal tends to be happier.
Ruma needed one-on-one support to stay on task. Her focus wanders. Her teachers call her in the breakout room, to explain the task, have her paraphrase the task to gather her understanding, as well as give her ‘graphic organisers. Ruma has stopped feeling lost, throughout the day. The good thing is that her mother is also on the same page of her school teaching methods, which helps her revise stronger and perform better than earlier.
On another hand is Ravi, for him one way of teaching as compared to the other is of no concern. He did well online and physical school. Well, in hybrid he could attempt the worksheets all at once and not wait for the teacher to explain. On the contrary, seeing his progress he has been given a few challenging assignments too. These have continued in the physical school too. It seems as if he also is enjoying his learning further as he is challenges and does not get all things correct.
The epidemic saw a surge of hybrid learning. Many were sceptical of the learning methods, depth of understanding and connections with all students. A teacher burnout was considered and the novelty wearing of was spoken too. Time and learning favoured all students. Students who require extra time for certain assignments due to learning differences, or who need specific tools or devices to be successful in the classroom, could access what they need on their own time. Other students preferred project-based learning or even gaming, that was popular during hybrid learning.
Personalized learning has been shown to improve students’ academic performance in math and reading and can be incorporated more easily in hybrid classrooms. A huge impact happens on student’s communication skills, especially for the shy ones.
Benefits of hybrid learning include:
Hybrid learning uses live video conferencing platform features like polls and quizzes, interactive virtual games, and a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning.
- Accessibility-Hybrid learning offers accessibility to students and teachers, on a local and global level. Students can access lessons despite their physical ability or location, along with being cost-effective for the stakeholders.
- Safety-Hybrid classrooms provide the flexibility and safe option for teachers and students to stay home when they are sick, reducing the spread of infection.
- Helped reduce teacher shortage or absenteeism
- Improving the parent/teacher connect-With the option to witness live courses with their child, caregivers can be more involved with their student’s education plan.
- Enabling better communication with multilingual families
Cons of Hybrid Learning
On the other hand, not all students have access to the devices and high-speed Wi-Fi they need to be successful with online learning. Others prefer to be in-person based on learning style or distractions at home. Students with learning disabilities may also lack their in-person tools, special educators that are available in the classroom.
The Future of Hybrid Learning
The future of education seems leaning towards hybrid learning. Creating new return to school plans that incorporate hybrid learning, fully online school environments, and blended classrooms based on student needs and available resources, may be the way forward. New hybrid education technology like video conferencing cameras and microphones, training of teachers in the latest technological ways would yield long-term results.
Consideration of a more flexible school day with a combination of physically present classes and virtual learning that better matches up with teenagers’ circadian rhythms might be an answer to better engaging high school students.