To date, only four states have ordered their schools to open with their districts required to offer in-person instruction five days a week. For most states, districts are left to decide whether to open schools for in-person learning, or a combination of in-person and remote learning — hybrid learning. As districts work to create a practical and effective balance between in-person and remote learning, many consider hybrid learning the ‘new norm’ for education. What are some reasons that lead them to think this way?
Why Hybrid Learning Will Continue
- There is uncertainty that a vaccine will be ready for younger children before the 2021-2022 school year begins. Many parents hesitate about sending their children to school when there is still risk of infection. Teachers are also apprehensive, especially those with underlying health conditions.
- Many educators see the value of flexibility in hybrid learning. Instruction is more likely to be personalized and there are more opportunities for one-to-one interaction so teachers can target specific student learning needs. Students can work at their own pace, without the pressure they may feel during in-class learning.
- Students who might have previously been overlooked, such those who are homeless, now have improved opportunities to continue their education without falling staggeringly behind. For instance, some districts are now establishing virtual schools where students are enrolled in full remote learning.
- Some parents feel that remote learning has given them greater insight into their children’s learning. They can observe teacher-student interaction and how instruction is being facilitated, as well as take a deeper look at the curriculum materials being used.
Before districts make the move to make hybrid learning the norm for their teachers, students, parents, and community, there are matters to be considered.
What to Consider
- Schools need to plan how they will deal with the change from having students who previously were fully remote learning to now attending in-person and remotely. They should think about the following questions: Will teachers have part of the class in the classroom while live streaming to the rest at home. Or will students attend in-person learning on alternating days? Do schools have the equipment, IT tools, and IT support to manage a hybrid model? Do schools have a plan for consistently providing internet connection to students who do not have access?
- Provide teachers with targeted training on how to facilitate learning in-class and online. This can include training on specific education technology software that helps teachers build and present interactive lessons, hardware that meets the needs of physical distancing in a classroom such as interactive displays and audio systems, how to use different web-based applications and platforms, and Best Practices to incorporate these different tools to engage students wherever they are learning. There should be a combination of training experiences including in-person and online, self-paced content. In all cases, teacher training should be interactive and require the application of learned skills soon afterward.
- Highly qualified IT staff to support teachers and students with any number of tech challenges that may occur. IT staff should also be comfortable with reaching out to and supporting parents and caregivers when there are questions. This may include surveying the school community – teachers, students, support staff, parents – on what they think works and does not work when it comes to hybrid learning.
Certainly, these are just a few considerations before districts decide to go ‘all in’ on hybrid learning. Others might include moving towards performance-based assessments, analytics to track technology use, and regular surveys for school stakeholders to better understand how hybrid learning is affecting teaching and learning. Hybrid learning appears to be on course to being fully implemented in many schools in this country – the new norm.
To learn about Boxlight education technology solutions to help your schools successfully incorporate hybrid learning, visit boxlight.com.