By Rohan Parikh, Managing Director – The Green Acres Academy and Rhea Jaffer, Manager, Research and Outreach, The Acres Foundation
Hybrid learning classrooms combine face to face, classroom instruction along with the use of technology or online instruction. Hybrid instruction aims to give students the best of both worlds by leveraging the strengths of in person classrooms as well as the strengths of online instruction. As a result, hybrid classrooms aim to be more effective than traditional in person classrooms.
How, you ask?
First and foremost, hybrid classrooms combine the advantages of in person teaching as well as independent learning and technology! Therefore, decisions for what kind of instruction to use when are guided by the question – what is the most effective way in which this learning goal can be achieved? Therefore, in a hybrid classroom you might find that in person lessons are focused on group activities and interactions that are bound to be most fruitful in person. Whereas work that is better suited to be done independently may be assigned as outside of class, online work. However, online or independent work will not simply be textbook readings or poorly planned activities. Online and independent instruction are also designed to maximise learning – this idea is at the core of hybrid programs.
A common inefficiency of large, physical classrooms is the time students are expected to spend in their seats. Being present in class and attendance often become markers of students’ success on an ongoing basis. How much students know cannot always be tested easily in large classrooms and is instead done in exams and big tests. In hybrid classrooms on the other hand attendance, the deliberate use of technology automatically reduces the need for excessive seat time. The focus is not on attendance but instead, on students’ engagement, participation, submissions and similar criteria.
Another key advantage of this model is the opportunity for differentiation. To differentiate means to provide students with different instruction based on their specific needs and requirements. In hybrid environments, where significant elements of the work are independent and online, students can be assigned tasks based on their personal progress. They can also work at a pace that suits their needs. In physical classrooms, teachers are likely to move at a pace that works for the majority of students. This means that students who require more time or less time to understand must be patient and move with the rest of the class. Hybrid instruction can solve this – teachers have more flexibility and more opportunities to customise instruction to meet students’ specific needs.
Hybrid classrooms can also dramatically increase students’ access to learning. in such cases big chunks of learning take place online and students are not required to meet in person classes everyday but instead less frequently such as weekly or monthly. For example, students can enroll in hybrid second language programs that are not offered in their schools. With hybrid programs, students in remote areas can learn without spending unnecessarily long on travelling – a common barrier to learning. Such hybrid learning programs have the potential to democratize learning by making high quality and specialised instruction available to many more in a more affordable way!
The implementation of hybrid programs can help solve the many existing inefficiencies of our existing education systems. Large classrooms can be more effective, engaging and provide differentiation. Further, teachers can take advantage of the flexibility and convenience that the use of technology provides and finally, learning can be made more accessible. Although hybrid programs require an investment in technology, in the long run and with effective capacity building, they can truly help us transform our classrooms!
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