Hybrid learning (and blended learning) are education buzzword that we’ve heard a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In our last blog post, we explored what hybrid learning means, how it’s different from blended learning, and how educators can adopt it in their classroom. Now, to better understand how this education phenomenon became so wildly popular, we’re breaking down the top 10 benefits of adopting the hybrid learning model:
1. Hybrid learning offers continued learning during periods of disruption
Hybrid learning is flexible and convenient, enabling continued educational services during times of disruption such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also during periods of sporadic student illness, inclement weather, or when travel requirements pull teachers, tutors, or students away from their standard settings.
2. Hybrid learning provides a safer learning experience during the pandemic
Hybrid learning isn’t a novel education model, but the pandemic accelerated its adoption around the world. An opportunity to conduct learning from a distance enhances the health and safety of students and educators, reducing exposure to the Coronavirus all while enabling convenient access from almost any Internet-enabled computer or mobile device via applicable video-conferencing and edtech tools like Pearl.
3. With hybrid learning, students can learn from anywhere
Such incredible access would have been considered impossible only a decade or two ago, but today, educators are harnessing the power of technology to improve the access to education for students with geographic, transportation or other barriers. The key to hybrid teaching for instructors is selecting the right educational software packed with all the handy features you need!
4. Hybrid learning is cost-effective
Operating a brick-and-mortar teaching establishment comes with a heavy price tag. From building maintenance to utilities and supply costs, it takes considerable overhead to pay for physical institutions and settings. Remote learning, even if only done part-time via hybrid learning, can help reduce such expenses.
There’s also the advantage of diminished liability in the event of on-site student mishaps, incidents, or illnesses, as well as potential hazards due to bad weather conditions.
5. Hybrid learning saves students and educators lots of time
Hybrid learning can not only save money, it also saves time in a variety of ways. The most obvious time-saver with remote learning is the elimination of back-and-forth commute time to the location where the lessons or tutoring sessions were going to take place. Educators and students also don’t need to worry about wasted time if the other party is running late. With remote lessons, the educator or student can carry on their other affairs while waiting for the other to arrive, or they can simply re-schedule, even if last-minute.
6. Hybrid learning is more eco-friendly
Less in-person teaching translates to less driving and a reduced carbon footprint! And, if enough students are learning from home, this can even decrease the number of school buses necessary for transportation which can also help lessen the negative impact on the environment.
7. Hybrid learning is better for certain topics and activities
Sometimes students who attend in-person use computers or devices in class to learn material or engage in projects, simulations, virtual experiences, virtual field trips or labs, or to review video footage.
In such cases, students don’t need to be physically present in the classroom; they can just as easily learn using a suitable online platform capable of delivering the content as needed. There are a ton of innovative ways to adapt a hybrid model to your existing curriculum or use it to launch exciting new activities.
8. With hybrid learning, students can benefit from using technology
Students, especially younger generations, have grown up with technology. They’re comfortable with and adept at using devices for entertainment as well as educational purposes. Thus, hybrid learning is natural for them because it incorporates things they’ve grown accustomed to using.
Granted, older adult students may not be as familiar with today’s devices and might not have the inherent curiosity to explore technology. Nevertheless, they’re often motivated when they discover how much they can benefit from becoming more tech-enabled.
Using technology to learn is crucial because it prepares students for the future workforce, which is continually evolving. The world is embracing the knowledge economy which is reliant on skilled workers who are proficient in using the latest technology.
9. Hybrid learning makes it easier to accommodate students with special learning needs
Schools work hard to ensure special education students have the resources to succeed. When necessary, accommodations or modifications must be made, such as presenting material differently, being flexible in how responses are accepted, allowing extra time, or changing physical settings.
This can pose a challenge to teachers and tutors responsible for ensuring all students have equitable opportunities while keeping the whole class on target each term. Hybrid learning provides educators with additional options which may ease the workload while effectively meeting certain special needs adjustments through inclusive online classrooms.
10. Hybrid learning is simple to scale up or down
What happens when a new student arrives and there are no more open desks? In a physical classroom, this might pose a problem but for online sessions, it’s easy to add a new student who can attend virtually. Hybrid learning makes scaling up your class size a breeze because it inherently allows for a greater capacity of students to participate.
By the same token, if a teacher or tutor needs to break students into small groups, many online platforms make it simple to scale down. No more chaos when asking students to get up and shuffle seats!
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.
When it comes to childhood education, one of the COVID pandemic’s most dire consequences has been the inability of students to attend classes in person. In the rush to mitigate the risk of exposure, school districts around the nation had launched distance learning options they were ill-prepared to manage. Countless teachers who’d spent their careers in classrooms were suddenly floundering, unfamiliar with both online instructional pedagogy and the associated technology being used.
Students, too, weren’t used to learning from a distance via home computers and Zoom calls. Though most students today grew up with the Internet, WiFi, laptops, and mobile devices, they were accustomed to using these things on their own (personal) time. Learning in a fully-virtual environment was a somewhat alien concept to them, and most found themselves thrust into it without due preparation or tools.
Now schools are facing an equally tough challenge — kids, at least some of them, are coming back! So what will this return to school look like in 2021? A lot depends on the damage done so far…
The Impact of COVID-19 on Students
The damage, to date, of COVID-19 has been extensive and ugly. The Department of Education’s study Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students notes several problem areas. “COVID-19 appears to have deepened the impact of disparities in access and opportunity facing many students of color in public schools, including technological and other barriers that make it harder to stay engaged in virtual classrooms,” the study found.
Meanwhile, for English learners, “the abrupt shift to learning from home amid the challenges of the pandemic has made that struggle even harder.” Parents with children who have disabilities realized that the “disruptions may be exacerbating longstanding disability-based disparities in academic achievement.”
The problems aren’t merely short-term; many will have deep, lasting impacts. For instance, certain student groups faced “particularly heightened risks for anxiety and stress and have lost regular access to affirming student organizations and supportive peers, teachers, and school staff. These students also are at an increased risk of isolation and abuse from unsupportive or actively hostile family members.”
Stuck at home, stressed out, besieged by distractions, and taught by teachers with no experience in distance learning, students have endured a perfect storm of problems. Districts, for their part, have utterly failed to hold students (or parents) accountable for missed attendance, giving a “pass” due to extenuating circumstances.
And so, the inevitable occurred. Grades sunk like a stone, leading to significant learning loss.
Like It or Not, Hybrid Learning Is Here to Stay
As the pandemic rages on, school districts around the country are handling 2021 school returns differently. Many plan to offer hybrid learning as a safety precaution to limit the number of students in class, keeping them further apart for social distancing. Hybrid learning models will allow some students to attend in-person while others stay home, attending virtually and synchronously.
Unlike blended learning, hybrid learning requires all students to attend lectures at the same time. These at-home students will invariably face the same struggles as before. Even though teachers and students have had time to grow accustomed to the distance learning model, the challenges didn’t just vanish. Indeed, the longer the pandemic drags on, the more impacted students will fall behind — because they haven’t had a chance to catch up in the first place.
Education Week described the issue as early as 2012, quoting ACT researcher Chrys Dougherty who pointed out that once students fall behind, “Relatively few high schools even got over 25 percent of their far-off kids caught up.” Dougherty added, “the needle of academic achievement moves slowly, because essentially you are building knowledge and skills that develop over time.”
Unfortunately, the students who’ve fallen behind due to COVID-19 turning the world upside down don’t have time to wait.
How Tutors Have Come to the Rescue
The solution to falling student grades has been in front of our noses for some time now. Private tutors have always been used to filling the gap when students (and schools) fail to achieve objectives. Now, with the plight caused by the pandemic, the invaluable work of tutors may be the only solution if we’re to haul America’s collective grades back up.
The key is getting around to it.
Traditionally, tutors are utilized by frustrated parents seeking to help their young ones catch up. Parents wait until after their student has started falling behind in their grades to seek out a tutor. But savvy parents have known that tutors can actually get students ahead of the curve, too!
Education works by building on top of prior-learned information. Or, as Hampshire College puts it, “New learning is constructed on prior knowledge.” If there’s a gap in that knowledge, then the foundation being built upon is flawed and won’t support the new information. As a result, the student will predictably get even further behind. In all too many such cases, the student eventually throws up their hands and yells, “I give up! I just don’t get it!”
But the fault is not necessarily their own…and things don’t have to be that way. The learning loss caused by Covid is not insurmountable. It simply takes an effective plan of action that incorporates proven tutoring strategies. One of the great things about tutoring is that it is infinitely flexible and customizable. Experienced tutors can quickly target the individual issues any child is facing and address them more swiftly than a classroom educator can. That’s because tutoring is inherently student-centered, not system-centered.
Furthermore, tutoring sessions don’t have to be reactive. Tutors can prime students ahead of time so that when classroom teachers introduce a new subject or concept, those students will already be familiar with it.
This tutoring-in-advance can be especially critical for subjects like mathematics. As explained by Mathnasium, “math knowledge builds on itself, constantly growing and expanding, and requiring a solid foundation and understanding before new concepts can be introduced.” A seasoned tutor can not only coach their students to get up to speed on particularly problematic math concepts, but they can also look ahead to the “next chapter” and start explaining upcoming material before the primary teacher ever gets to it!
Bottom line: a successful return to school during a pandemic depends on the willingness of teachers, parents, and students to recognize both the problems of the recent past and their ongoing impact on future learning. Effectively planned tutoring schedules can not only offset previous learning loss but prevent it going forward.