From colleges and K-12 school districts to home-based tutoring businesses, educators around the country have jumped at the chance to offer hybrid learning options for students. But what exactly is hybrid learning? In this article, we’ll explore what hybrid learning means, how it differs from blended learning, and how you can make hybrid learning work for your students.
What is hybrid learning?
Hybrid learning is simply an educational model that combines live, in-person classes with online, remote learning methods. The online portion may involve students attending class via teleconferencing software or engaging with multimedia-enriched content or computer applications.
Often, we hear the term hybrid learning used synonymously with blending learning. However, there is a difference! The blending learning model relies more on in-person lessons supplemented by online work. In contrast, the hybrid learning model focuses more or less equally on in-person and remote studies.
To maximize effectiveness, distance learning experiences should be engaging and integrated with face-to-face instruction. They should complement each other as much as possible.
One variation of hybrid learning is to have half a class attend physically while the rest attend virtually. This is helpful to allow for better social distancing during the pandemic, reducing the risk of exposure.
Another way to effectively use hybrid learning is to have students attend a certain number of hours in person and then complete the lessons at home. This is useful when students need to work on assignments that don’t require them to be physically present in class.
Hybrid learning may feature synchronous attendance as well as incorporating asynchronous studies and discussions. Some educators use hybrid learning for short-term solutions when students can’t come to class, others view it as the perfect long-term learning experience that provides students with the best of both worlds.
Clearly, hybrid learning is a very flexible model for an array of situations, which is why it is being adopted by everyone from tutors to K-12 school districts, all the way up to Ivy League universities. Indeed, in June 2021, Harvard reported that “over the last 15 months, more than 5,000 faculty members across Harvard have taught online and hybrid classes.”
How to make hybrid learning work for your class
As with in-person classrooms, teachers must establish clear rules for online students to follow. As suggested by Edutopia, it’s wise to set the stage in advance each day, by posting a “daily agenda before class” that includes built-in time for breaks and class transitions. Make sure students (and parents, as applicable) know how to easily find this online and/or in the physical classroom.
Teachers and tutors must continuously look for ways to keep their hybrid classes interesting, inclusive, relevant, and accessible to everyone. Hybrid learning models should intertwine in-person and online activities as much as possible, utilizing live media and soliciting student engagement in chat.
Breakout sessions and games are fun ways to bust up the monotony after a lecture or video presentation. The International Literacy Association points out several more tips, noting the importance of teaching real-world applicability. “If students can experience how the skills they learn online can apply outside of the classroom,” the site writes, “they’re not only more engaged but also more prepped for the real world.”
Schools and tutoring businesses interested in hybrid learning should take inventory of their needs before shopping around for a suitable online platform. While there are a few options out there, we at Pearl have built an “all-in-one tool” made specifically for educators — like us! — who need a comprehensive, flexible, user-friendly platform that makes remote teaching and learning easier than ever.