Education is at a crossroad and for many countries of the world, it has always been. The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus offered us lots of opportunities to migrate from traditional learning to a digital form of education or at the least embrace hybrid learning. Hybrid Learning has validated the fact that with proper supervision many more can and will get quality education.
In addition, we are experiencing a profound revolution in technology, the world of computing is advancing incredibly, artificial intelligence growing rapidly and the emergence of big data is transforming all aspects of our human life and work in a quantum leap. As a result, the skills that qualify one for employment differ and go beyond what is traditionally taught in schools.
What is Hybrid Learning and how effective is it?
Hybrid learning is a way of combining traditional classroom experiences, experiential learning objectives, and digital course delivery that emphasizes using the best option for every learning objective.
According to a 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Education, a hybrid model has been found to be more effective at the college level than either exclusive online or face to face instruction. It is an effective way to engage students and teachers because it gives access to a new model of learning, various resources, and a better way for students to be more flexible with their time.
Benefits of Hybrid Learning
a. Improved Flexibility
Learners want as many options as possible and the ability to move from in-person to remote learning can be invaluable. Failure to offer flexibility can result in students choosing to study a different course, or choosing to study at a different academic institution entirely. Students want the freedom to decide how they learn on a lesson-by-lesson basis.
b. Increased Access to Learning
When in-person teaching is the only option available, all students need to be within travelling distance of the classroom throughout the full duration of their course. With hybrid learning, this is not necessarily the case, which can mean a greater number of people feel able to participate.
c. Better Use of Teaching Resources
A major advantage is its ability to improve how teaching resources are used and this can be seen in many different ways. For one, the mix of physical classroom learning and remote learning can allow for smaller classrooms to cater for more students, while saving the very largest rooms for lessons that need them.
d. Reduced Student Absenteeism
One of the most overlooked benefits of hybrid learning is the potential to reduce cases of absence on a course. This can occur because while people may feel too physically unwell to attend a classroom, they may still feel well enough to engage with the class through remote learning, meaning they no longer need to miss out entirely.
How Do We Sustain These Benefits?
1.) Make the level of technology adoption the parameter for assessing the success of educators – With the emergence of the Covid-19 virus, regulators of education and schools had no option but to think through the process of delivering education with the aid of technology (ed-tech). Utilizing technology adoption as a parameter will help ease out ed-tech antagonists and everyone must be accountable.
2.) Confronting the menace of “something for nothing syndrome” – Like everyone, educators no matter how pleasant they appear on the outside all want safety, security (job), comfort, leisure, love, respect and fulfilment. To achieve these ends, they strive for more power and money, and no amount is ever enough. With these in mind, you see the offering from the education sector continuously falling and the cost of education rising with limited value or none at all.
3.) Awakening parents’ consciousness to their role in hybrid education (New Normal) – Parents need to create and instill new behavioural patterns, prepare time, energy, including learning to use gadgets or software that supports hybrid education in children so they can adapt well.
First, modelling. If parents cannot be good role models, children’s behaviour will never be formed.
The second is repetition. In repeating what we do, we ensure the child does not have the reluctance to do repetition. Repetition must however be consistent if done at home, then at school or other places.
Third, reinforcement. We need reinforcement especially when it concerns children. We can offer praise and nonverbal communication (e.g., smile, nod, thumbs up), social attention (e.g., a conversation, special time with the teacher or a peer) and tangibles such as stickers, new pencils, etc.
4.) Unveiling the agenda of political opportunism in the society –These opportunistic politicians or proxies will argue against Hybrid Learning citing the cost as a challenge. Governments must realize that hybrid learning is here to stay and take critical actions to ensure its sustainability. It takes educated voters to keep opportunists who are corrupt from manipulating the system for the benefit of a few.
5.) What Strategies Can Schools Use to sustain Hybrid Learning Models? Recent research suggests that online teaching and learning models can be effective “if students have consistent access to the Internet and computers and if teachers have received targeted training and support for online instruction.” Some of the biggest pain points that have emerged have more to do with tech-challenged educators tasked with using that technology.