Here’s what you need to know about hybrid learning
Hybrid learning is the term on everybody’s lips in 2022, and it’s not always by choice. Individual households dropping in and out of isolation means that many kaiako are having to navigate hybrid waters, whether prepared or not.
Classroom safety has been a big focus recently, and rightly so. Having the in-person environment available and as safe as possible is crucial to learning for many kids. Now schools are beginning to also turn their attention towards providing lessons and learning online to those who need it temporarily.
Establishing hybrid learning is not just something for the COVID era. The benefits and flexibility that this approach provides should be preserved and used in the future. We hope to see a day where the hybrid approach fits easily and naturally into an educator’s workflow. It’s a long road, but one that we are beginning to walk together in Aotearoa.
We’ve used a comprehensive PDF written by Derek Wenmoth of FutureMakers as the basis for this blog post—we know a good resource when we see one! Take a look at the full version if you have the time for more in-depth research.
What is hybrid learning, exactly?
“Hybrid”, of course, refers to the blend of two different elements to create one whole. Like a Prius, which combines electric and fuel-powered running systems for one whole vehicle, hybrid learning combines online and in-classroom elements to ensure that all students can receive a whole education despite changes to their ability to be physically present.
Unlike blended learning, hybrid learning involves teaching the same material both online and in-person, to two different groups. And in the current context—Aotearoa 2022—students will switch between groups with very little warning, making it crucial that the transitions can be achieved relatively seamlessly.
You can probably see where the challenge lies. This is particularly tricky for ICT leaders, who will be looked to for spearheading the implementation and refinement of hybrid systems. Kaiako on the “coal face” of hybrid teaching often have very valid concerns–and even complaints–about changes like this one. These should be heard, acknowledged, and taken into account while planning for change management. Always keep in mind the heaviness of teacher workloads at the best of times!
Here’s what Derek says are the key concepts that will form a base for successful hybrid learning.
Firstly, setting up for hybrid learning will require an audit of resources available. Online learning requires certain conditions, and a school should have knowledge of how achievable it is for their tamariki.
A learning conditions audit might include and require:
Research into existing data and knowledge of the school and staff
The audit should determine which students have appropriate devices and workspaces available to them at home, which ones have access to fast internet connections, and how support and resources can be made available to those who need them.
Setting up the online environment
Most schools will already have a platform and suite of tools that they use to deliver learning content online. Google Classroom, Hāpara, Microsoft Teams—there are plenty of options, and determining the best one is a puzzle for each individual school and ICT team. Transparency is an important consideration when setting up an online school. It should be obvious to learners and their families what is expected.
The full PDF resource by Derek Wenmoth has more in-depth information (page 12) about comparing online tools and deciding which ones to use.
Another key concept to remember when setting up an online learning environment is that ideally it will have the same “feel” as the physical one. When ICT staff are rushing to get something in place, this may not be a priority—but when it is possible, it should be. This will create a sense of belonging and continuity for those learning at home. It can be achieved through:
Matching fonts and colours
Images of the physical environment
Similar language and messaging
Similar structure and organisation i.e digital spaces mirroring physical classrooms, libraries etc.
Content design and assessment planning
The design of actual hybrid learning content should be led by the same overall principles as any other learning content, with consideration to the tools available and both groups being taught.
Content design should be done simultaneously with assessment planning, ensuring the two work well together.
Learners should be centred, taking into account their cultural backgrounds, learning preferences, and more.
Transparency is important—learners should know what they are learning, why, and how it will be assessed.
When designing content, consider what is available online as this will be readily accessible to both groups (those at home and those in the classroom). Slideshows, videos, images, and online quizzes are also helpful content in a hybrid context, engaging all learners. Kahoot.it is a fantastic resource for creating online quizzes accessible to all learners. We’ve posted before about the limitations of quizzes and read-only slideshows and PDFs, but they certainly still have their place as useful resources.
Loading lesson content and learning resources onto your online platform as it is prepared for in-person teaching can streamline the process. Voice recordings are a great way to explain and contextualise the content for those accessing it online, and can be done as part of lesson planning.
Hybrid learning can be a big ask of kaiako, and it’s so important to equip them properly for it. PD is something we always advocate for, but it’s especially crucial in preparing for this new way of teaching and learning. This PPTA article states:
“Most teachers who move into hybrid learning would normally do so over a period of time and as part of a professional growth process with PLD and support.”
With the pandemic as a motivator, implementation in 2022 is somewhat rushed. But PD opportunities and support must be prioritised as much as possible.
Of course, it makes sense to offer staff PD opportunities delivered via hybrid methods—learning by experience as well as via the content. Transparency is equally important for kaiako as it is for the learners, and all should be made aware of what changes are being made, why they are being made, what is driving the change, and how they will—ideally—benefit the learners and better equip the teachers to do their jobs.
Leaders and management should be identifying and addressing concerns and tensions around the implementation of hybrid learning and creating personal development opportunities that are directly helpful and relevant.
We at Think e-Learning are passionate about all things ICT and e-learning—specifically, equipping leaders in the field to guide and nurture their teams as they ease into digital literacy and discover the full potential of online learning. Please get in touch with any questions and to ask about professional development opportunities regarding hybrid learning or anything else ICT-related.
Comprehensive hybrid learning guide by Derek Wenmoth of FutureMakers: Getting Started with Hybrid Learning | FUTUREMAKERS
Video webinar from Derek Wenmoth unpacking the hybrid learning guide, in the Leaders’ Connect series (one of Stephen’s other hats!): Hearing our stories - leading change for hybrid learning | Leadership Lab
Hybrid learning advice from the PPTA website: Hybrid Learning Advice | PPTA.
A summary page just added to the FutureMakers website: Hybrid Learning | FUTUREMAKERS