The LinkIt! Team
Hybrid learning is an approach to education that combines face-to-face instruction with remote online or digital content. It’s one of the most popular and successful approaches to modern education, and for good reason – it offers students the best of both worlds, where you can learn from your peers from virtually anywhere.
However, the interactive and adaptable learning environment is not new. It has been around since the year 2000 when video conferencing first came onto the scene for use with group activities, classes, tutorials and webinars. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools switched to online or hybrid courses in order to ensure safety. This trend will likely continue even after crisis levels go down.
Since the general population today has grown up with tablets, smartphones, and other devices, students have fully adapted to learning this way and feel comfortable doing so. The digital age has also enabled an astonishingly diverse approach towards educating students. The number and variety of online courses that are available means that there are countless ways for individuals to learn at their own pace, with the tools they prefer most: reading text or watching video clips on demand; taking practice quizzes or collaborating together through interactive activities.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of the hybrid learning model and the ways in which it can be incorporated into any class curriculum, as well as some of the challenges it presents.
Educational technology has revolutionized the way we learn. Hybrid learning offers a great opportunity for both students and educators, who can now access more learning resources from anywhere, at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. It’s a flexible learning experience, with flexible schedules, teaching modes, approaches to curriculum and teacher-student engagement. However, challenges remain in a variety of areas related to implementation. These include, but are not limited to issues pertaining to device access and Internet connectivity at home.
As Renee Patton, Global Director of Education and Healthcare, Cisco, states: “One of the biggest challenges facing education right now is the digital divide, which is leaving many students without access to broadband connectivity. The pandemic shined a bright light on the lack of access students have to learning resources from home.”
Another finding is that implementing a hybrid learning model is not necessarily easy or intuitive. In fact, while students appear to adapt more readily to the hybrid form of instructional delivery, such implementations often remain challenging for teachers that may struggle to determine where they fit into the process.
For example, many hybrid learning models enable students to learn at their own pace in an asynchronous manner, or even participate in a synchronous lesson taught by a teacher who is not their primary teacher. Given that hybrid learning supports a variety of models for instructional delivery, how does the primary classroom teacher adapt to these new conditions and participate in the instructional process in a meaningful way?
The hybrid learning experience also requires a delicate balance of tech resources that are reliable and easy to use and teachers who have a certain level of digital literacy to be able to manage their classroom with so many online tools weaved in and through the curriculum. Adopting blended teaching methods requires that they pick the right syllabus, the ratio between online and face-to-face classes. There’s no universal recipe when it comes down to how this will work in your classroom, however, when you have solid tech support and trainers on hand at all times as we do at LinkIt!, it can mitigate many of the typical implementation challenges. solves these issues at once.
Last but not least, another challenge associated with hybrid learning is the potential for cognitive overload. Some teachers may unintentionally over-deliver content and educational activities without realizing the potential for such content to overwhelm the students. Luckily at LinkIt!, our team of advisors can help create formative assessments to help measure students' understanding of core lesson content and overall progress.
The first thing you’ll want to do when beginning the journey into a hybrid learning model is to establish clear goals. What do you plan to accomplish? Setting long and short-term goals for yourself, as well as those of the students in the class, will give everyone an understanding of what they can expect from the experience from the very onset.
Once you've determined the goals of your hybrid course, now you're ready to decide how your students will be assessed and show them how to navigate the course. This is a great time for visual representation with an easy-to-use platform like LinkIt! that can show students what they need to focus on in order to progress through each module successfully.
Now you’ll want to think about which elements of your course will be offered during the in-person and online portions of your course, respectively. Will you have group brainstorming sessions? Call and response presentations? Which discussions can be around video and audio content? How will you provide feedback to your students? Map out the modules in your course based on some of the answers to these questions.
An essential part of any smooth-running hybrid experience is having an integrated assessment program like LinkIt! that monitors students to make sure they are learning and growing. This type of assessment platform has become a particularly important part of the modern educational ecosystem as it creates a mechanism for teachers to keep close tabs on student learning metrics using a diverse set of data points. This is especially useful in hybrid environments where much of the instructional delivery may happen without the direct involvement of the primary classroom teacher. Accordingly, data derived from benchmark assessments, progress monitoring quizzes, rubric-based performance tasks scores and other data sets take on a new level of importance as they can offer critical insights regarding where and how to spend instructional time on task, especially since it is able to measure any learning loss that the pandemic may have caused students, and then track recovery as they come back to their normal coursework and in-person learning environments.
One additional benefit of leveraging a robust digital assessment platform like LinkIt! to support hybrid learning implementations is that such platforms support secure testing along with less need for direct proctoring. This ability to generate authentic and reliable assessment results by restricting access to the internet browsers and the desktop during online testing administrations is a critical component of keeping education on track when blending in-person with remote learning.
Teacher/student conferences can leverage data from the student portal within the LinkIt! platform and take full advantage of features like item analysis, student learning resources, constructed-response assignments and project-based learning. Online assessments and rubric-based feedback are also available via our Data Locker & Interactive Rubric features.
With online assessments, particularly in hybrid environments, security is paramount. You’ll want to have the technological advantage of not only limiting access to the dashboard and web browsers, but also the ability to shuffle questions and answer choices, introduce student honor pledges, monitor time spent on tests and questions, customize feedback to be age-appropriate, all of which LinkIt! provides.
While there are some challenges to successfully implementing hybrid learning models, the advantages can be great. If you’re looking for a way to increase student engagement and create a more personalized learning experience or even bring in outside expertise from subject matter experts or real-world practitioners, hybrid learning may be the answer. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you implement the right set of data and assessment tools to support your hybrid learning journey.
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