Are you a teacher or parent wondering what is hybrid learning? With so many different hybrid teaching models it is easy to become overwhelmed! Read here to learn all about what hybrid learning is and some best practices you can use as a teacher or parent to make the best online learning experience for your child!
What Is Hybrid Learning?
During the COVID pandemic many schools took on a hybrid learning model in 2020/2021. This reduces class sizes and maximizes space between teachers and students. According to Penn State, hybrid learning is any approach that “combines face to face instruction with online activities” (https://sites.psu.edu/hybridlearning/what-is-hybrid/). This can be done an infinite amount of ways! Each school or district takes into account the needs of their community balanced with budget constraints and safety protocols. Together, many schools adapted a hybrid learning model to combine traditional in person learning with an online component.
Hybrid Learning vs. Remote Learning
Hybrid learning is often confused with remote learning. Hybrid learning is a combination of online and traditional face to face learning while remote learning is all online. How the face to face and online of portion looks will vary from district to district and school to school.
Other terms you may hear when learning about hybrid learning are: synchronous and asynchronous. These refer to online learning. Synchronous online learning means the lessons are live, and happen in real time. Each student is on the computer and participating in a lesson or video call simultaneously. Asynchronous learning is online as well, but the assignments are posted and children can complete them at their own pace. These assignments may include recorded video lessons or interactive activities, but there is no real time communication between teacher and student.
Hybrid Learning Model
There are many different hybrid learning models a district could follow, or create. Some of the factors a district may use to help determine the best model are: transportation, accessibility, class size, funding, staffing, and community needs (among others). All hybrid models theoretically cut class sizes in half allowing for more social distancing, but also allowing for more one on one and small group instruction. You can read more about the benefits of small group instruction here!
As a hybrid teacher, I find the full days in/out model the most effective and time efficient. This means a teacher may have group A on Mon, Wed and group B on Tue, Thurs and then the groups alternate every other Friday. A similar hybrid learning model may be group A on Mon, Tue and group B, on Thurs, Fri with Wed off for cleaning.
Having full days means teachers can follow a more traditional schedule in the classroom, leaving adequate time for exploration and direct instruction of core content areas, such as Math and Literacy. But, what about the online part of hybrid learning? Like any model, this can be determined by the teacher, district or school. Some hybrid teachers may choose to have the day completely asynchronous, meaning the students would work at their own pace without live instruction. This online learning may include recorded lessons, but the teacher will never be “live” with their students. Others may take on a synchronous (or live) model for hybrid learning. A classroom may live stream a lesson, teaching both online and face to face students at once, or host a live video call with online students while face to face students are working independently. Wondering how to manage your face to face students while teaching your hybrid learners? Check this out for hybrid learning management strategies!
Another popular hybrid learning model is half days. Group A will come to school 8-11:30, and Group B will be in the classroom from 12:00-3:30. Similarly to the full day model, this allows space for students to spread out and for teachers to spend more one on one time with students. However, the teacher must be creative in fitting in core content areas utilizing a half day schedule. After teaching half day Kindergarten for many years, fitting the core content in a half day schedule is possible however it leaves little time for exploration and discovery. Most half-day models opt for an asynchronous online component to their hybrid learning. This allows for students to continue the learning in the classroom at home, while the teacher can support the face to face students. These online assignments can also be used by the teacher to gain valuable data into their students learning.
Hybrid Learning Group
Did you have a voice in creating the hybrid learning groups for your classroom? Many schools grouped by last name (A-L and M-Z) while accommodating siblings etc…but a few schools determined their hybrid groups to target similar academic weaknesses. As an elementary hybrid teacher you differentiate your instruction all the time (and you can read some great tips here!)
The research doesn’t lie: kids learn better in small groups than in any other type of learning! Especially if the instruction is strategic and targeted. Imagine the progress students could make if their hybrid learning group was based on what they needed to gain from the classroom! You can read more about the importance of small group instruction here.
As there are an infinite of hybrid learning models, there are also an infinite hybrid teaching models. The two are closely intertwined. Hybrid teaching is any type of teaching that combines traditional classroom with modern online instruction. There are many different hybrid teaching models from flipped classrooms to live streaming to more traditional homework activities completed in an online format. Hybrid teaching is flexible to fit the hybrid model chosen by a school or district.
Hybrid Teaching Best Practices
Check out these three tips when thinking about hybrid teaching best practices! Please note: these tips are best for those working with hybrid learners in the elementary (k-5 level).
Tip 1: Try to keep activities to 10 minutes or less. Keep activities short and sweet helps your learners stay focused without becoming overwhelmed with the activity or the screen.
Tip 2: Work in movement breaks or types of movement activities every 20 minutes. It’s important to get the blood moving with your hybrid learners! Sitting at a computer all day can cause fatigue and disengagement. Having a quick scavenger hunt or a dance break can do wonders for your engagement when online teaching!
Tip 3: Keep all activities simple and focused! Students who are hybrid learning are having to work their computers, their browser or video conferencing app, and whatever platform your activity is in. That’s a lot of things to think about! Keep the activities simple and focused so students can manage the technology and concept!
Looking for some hybrid activities? Check these out!
How is hybrid learning going for you? Be sure to share below!