The pandemic has upended the entire face-to-face education system and structure worldwide. During COVID-19, drastic measures had to be taken and schools, as we knew them, were out. They had to adopt new (and sometimes already existing, old) methods of teaching and learning in order to overcome the difficulties faced during these times.
Although these alternative methods have been around for some time now, they have gained traction in the past couple of years. Now that it is back-to-school season once again and the summer is over, parents and caregivers are trying to understand what these alternative methods to traditional education entail. Hybrid learning or hybrid education is one of these alternatives that are now in use for remote learning. In this article, we will delve into what hybrid learning is and how it can benefit students.
What is Hybrid Learning?
Hybrid learning is an educational approach that combines face-to-face classes and online learning. Through hybrid learning, some students attend the class in person, while others join virtually remotely. Teachers and educators utilize various tools such as video conferencing to teach both of these student groups.
Hybrid classes can entail some online exercises, pre-recorded videos, and other materials that will support the in-person classes. This means that sometimes hybrid learning can include asynchronous learning elements.
The reason hybrid learning is one of the most popular methods of education in use is that when done right, it fuses the best aspects of in-person and online learning. This makes it so that many students can select and choose the type that suits them the most and benefit from the supporting materials, making education more accessible and attainable.
Hybrid Learning vs. Remote Learning
With hybrid learning, students can come into school two to three days a week with a rotating schedule. This helps them be in the classroom with some of their other student friends and interact with their teachers. Other students at home have to keep up with work or lessons, making them learn how to manage their time in order to catch up with the work. In this model, some students are at home, while others attend classes in person.
Remote learning is a little bit different. This model entails every aspect of a regular in-person school day, except for going to the actual school. In this model, every student is at home, sometimes including the teacher. The classes are done over virtual conference calls using certain tools available.
What is the Difference Between Hybrid Learning and Blended Learning?
Hybrid learning and blended learning are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between these two learning models. Hybrid learning is an educational approach where some students attend classes in person, and others participate virtually. Here, the educators teach both students groups simultaneously, but there may also be some asynchronous teaching elements such as pre-recorded videos.
Blended learning is a little bit of a different concept. With blended learning, educators, instructors, and facilitators combine various in-person instructions with online learning activities. In both of these learning methods, there is a mix of in-person learners and online learners. However, the difference between the two is that with blended learning, the same individuals learn both in-person and online. With hybrid learning, the students who are the in-person learners are different individuals from the online learners.
In-person teaching methods, as well as asynchronous learning methods, are combined in blended learning. The hybrid teaching method involves the instructor and educator utilizing asynchronous teaching methods to support synchronous and in-person instruction.
What is Hybrid Education?
Hybrid education is a learning and teaching model where the needs of the instructors, students, and everyone that work at the educational institution are met through educational tools. These tools are utilized to provide education to both in-person and online learners. Hybrid education offers flexible scheduling and can be tailored to the students in a way to close the learning gap and suit everyone. Additional tools are utilized to boost and support both student groups’ educational needs.
Why is Hybrid Education Innovative?
Hybrid education can still be considered a new approach. However, many educators and students report the success they have had with it. There are a couple of reasons why. First off, this type of education offers a chance for students to be a little more flexible on their education, while also incorporating active learning, as their responsibilities to catch up with the class and the materials are higher.
Hybrid education offers the advantages of going to school and socializing with being at home. This came in handy, especially during times of COVID-19. Some students state that they benefit from hybrid education more compared to being entirely at home and remote. That is why getting the best from traditional teaching and online learning is the innovative side of hybrid education.
Another point to make here is something that we have been trying to emphasize and has been a very popular subject matter: accessibility. Hybrid education makes it easier for people to get a quality education without having to go to the actual school. Classes become available and accessible to more people from all kinds of backgrounds.
This method of learning also entails the use of technology, software and hardware alike. Children connecting to the classroom through virtual conference calls, teachers utilizing smart screens, homework done over smart devices can all be a part of the curriculum.
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What are the Benefits of Hybrid Education?
As mentioned before, hybrid education takes and combines the best aspects of in-person learning and online learning. So if it is done correctly and well, hybrid education can bring about a learning method without the weaknesses of the two separate methods. Here are some of the benefits of hybrid education:
A flexible way of learning and teaching:
Hybrid education allows for a flexible learning schedule. The best part of this method is that anything and everything relating to hybrid learning can and should be adjusted to the specific needs of that specific class. Educators can also be flexible in selecting their teaching modes, and how students engage with the learning materials offered for the class. Another obvious flexibility is that students attending the classes remotely from their homes don’t have to come into the actual school to get an education.
Accessibility has been a great discussion topic for the past decades. Many students can’t access quality education simply because they can’t go to or be in the school. There may be many reasons behind this lack of access. The child may have some learning difficulties, physical disabilities, or the parents may not be able to both work and send their children to school during the day. Although children’s right to quality education is protected by the law, hybrid education can be a great alternative in terms of providing more learning opportunities to these individuals. Students can participate in their classes and learn what their peers are learning face-to-face.
A shift in a student’s responsibilities and abilities:
Online learning can provide the student with a great deal of freedom. Although there is a structure that needs to be followed, the students are encouraged to adhere to this schedule on their own merit. They have to keep up with the workload, so they learn self-management skills. Since students have more flexibility with their time, they can improve their work, revisit materials, do additional research, schedule their time accordingly, and in turn, learn in a more efficient way.
Efficient use of resources:
Hybrid learning encourages planning ahead and scheduling which classes will be online and which will be in-person. This makes it so that the students have to think beforehand about what resources they will need for each of their classes. They will learn to plan ahead and gather and optimize their resources, such as time. If they need an educational tool they need, they will learn to remember to bring that to the class.
Benefits of synchronous learning opportunities come with the package:
The immediacy, as well as the socialization of in-person, synchronous learning, have a great impact in shaping the child’s personality and academic skills. One of the best aspects of hybrid learning is that students can get the benefits of real-time engagement with their peers. Synchronous group work can help children make the best of in-person time.
Is Hybrid Education Better Than Traditional Education?
Education methods have changed drastically over the years and will probably continue to change in the coming years. We discover new information and methods along the way and try to implement these into the structure.
There is no definitive response as to which one is the better way of learning. Both the traditional and the hybrid education method have their own advantages and a set of drawbacks. The best idea would be to assess the child’s needs as well as what the school system in your area can offer, and select the one that suits the child the most.
Today, we are dealing with a pandemic, which disrupted the entire school system and structure and forced authorities to implement alternative methods to avoid making children lose out on education. So in a way, traditional education fell short in terms of meeting the educational needs of children in this day and age. Hybrid education has been a favorable alternative.
Hybrid education is extremely flexible both for the child and the educators and instructors. There is a unique balance of guidance prepared by the educational facilities and the instructors. These are designed to help the child excel by fitting the curriculum and other activities to their needs. Alternative to spending time at school, commuting, travel expenses, and other expenses that come with going to the physical school building, children have more time in their hands to pursue extracurricular activities that are related to their development.
In addition, hybrid education is especially beneficial for students with special needs and disabilities. Hybrid education makes it so that the quality and proper education is accessible and tailored to their needs. This proves a little bit difficult for traditional education, as the system is mostly designed to serve neurotypical students or students without disabilities.
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However, hybrid education might not be a good fit for students who don’t have access to or can’t afford technological devices, as the system heavily relies upon these tools. If a child doesn’t have a laptop to connect through or can’t use tablets or computers due to their disability, then going to school and getting their education there face-to-face might be a better fit.
Here, the decision really depends on what the child needs and what they are able to do with the tools they have. Parents and caregivers should look into all of the pros and cons before making a decision.
Why is Hybrid Education Conducive for Special Needs and Special Education Students?
Students with learning disabilities have support systems implemented at school as stipulated by law. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit this usually underserved community even harder. The systems and programs in place, such as the Individualized Education Plans, require a lot of planning and effort as each and every special needs student has different needs that need to be carefully assessed and monitored throughout their academic life.
Naturally, learning disabilities or other special needs impacting the student’s ability to understand or process information made it difficult for some students to get the education they needed when they needed it. With the pandemic, this gap widened, and parents and caregivers had to look into alternatives.
Since hybrid learning is a much more flexible educational model, it can be fit around the student’s needs. Not everyone learns the same way, and this goes for children with special needs as well. The most difficult thing facing these students may be the adaptation to a new learning arrangement.
Though it may seem daunting, once children with special needs get the structure, they would be able to reap the benefits of hybrid learning. Once they get used to the structure, the most obvious benefit of hybrid learning for special needs children is accessibility. Not all children can get the best education face-to-face due to their various disorders and disabilities. Being remote and having a platform and program tailored to your child’s needs and liking can increase access to proper education.
Not only that, children will still be interacting with their peers on a day-to-day basis through interactive practices and various activities. This will increase their social skills but not be overwhelming, perhaps. A pace that is determined based on the child’s specific needs and abilities will also come in handy for special needs children. Hybrid learning in turn would contribute to the child’s special education, as it is specifically made and designed for the child with their needs and abilities in mind.
One other benefit that we would like to mention is the time that the child will have to themselves. Special needs children may have a special interest, or autistic children, for instance, may have a deep understanding of a topic that they would like to research or study. Hybrid learning would provide the opportunity for the child to delve deeper into these topics, as they will always have access to the educational material and have time aside to focus on these special areas they are interested in.
Hybrid learning and hybrid education seem to be working well for a lot of students and instructors. It can help close the gap and provide better access to proper education, especially during the pandemic.