The crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing a radical rethinking to a number of traditional learning approaches.
Globally, new forms of teaching are now in demand – project-based, student-centered learning model, and hybrid format, where some of the lessons take place in the classroom and some online. That is why online tutoring jobs are becoming more and more popular these days.
With that, let’ talk about why hybrid learning is the future, how the discoveries of neurobiology can help teachers, and what skills need to be developed in today’s students.
Education during COVID-19 pandemic
During the COVID-19 Crisis, schools around the world found themselves in a position where students and teachers were suddenly isolated. Students can no longer attend face-to-face classes and teachers are now required to adapt to these new online learning method and approaches.
With schools closed, distance or remote learning was the only work lifeline for teachers and the only way for students to return to school.
However, there is a big caveat behind the remote learning experience. For these students and teachers to access distance learning, they need to have stable internet access as well.
But according to the Pew Research Center, only 14% of the world’s population had access to 4G broadband while 44% had an Internet connection that is not entirely reliable. The poorest part of the population – people who live in remote or marginalized communities – could not get access to the internet at all.
Where there was inadequate infrastructure, they limited themselves to educational broadcasts on television and radio, which schoolchildren were encouraged to watch.
Broadcasts have a much larger audience than lessons uploaded to the Internet, but the TV format of education has one big drawback: students can only access lectures by teachers and nothing else. It is a very inflexible approach because students cannot engage and learn from their teachers and classmates.
As for rich countries, their move towards online learning has varying degrees of success. Regardless of whether they have a stable connection, some students are still left behind because they are unable to cope with the stress and problems they face at home.
So while distance learning has its advantages, there are still underlying problems and minor issues that are yet to be addressed.
Hybrid learning – the main trend of the K-12 Education
Now online education is moving towards project work and child-centered learning. Rather than sit in front of the computer all day and listen to lectures, kids can now do fun projects and learn in their own time instead. It is a more flexible approach and there are now several different learning formats to choose from.
But there are still looming dangers behind this approach and not everyone can have the same experience. After all, even wealthy families may only have one computer, and if several children share it, it will be difficult for them to have full access to classes and materials.
When we look to the future, it is clear that we need a systematic and sustainable approach that can cope with any unforeseen circumstances. And hybrid learning model can be that.
By hybrid learning system, we mean a solution that allows for parallel education both in the classroom and online. You can have half the class in school, while the rest of the children are in isolation.
But this can only be successful if everyone did their part. The students, teachers, parents, and even the government as well.
More about Hybrid Learning
Distance learning is sort of a mix between online and face-to-face classes. According to dictionary.com, here is its official definition:
“education in which the face-to-face classroom experience is combined with or replaced by an online experience that includes synchronous and asynchronous interactions with peers and instructors, and lessons and assessments that can be completed digitally or in person.”
It is worth pointing out that hybrid class is different from the blended learning model. In essence, blended learning is a face-to-face course in itself, accompanied and blended with online learning. Whereas hybrid learning, on the other hand, offers course and classes that are meant to replace a portion of face-to-face classes with online learning. Rather than requiring students to interact personally, they can simply opt for online learning instead.
What Makes Hybrid Learning Awesome
As every cliché internship program slogan goes “the learning does not stop outside the classroom.” With hybrid learning, we can now achieve this quote and finally (and literally) practice what we have been preaching to kids for many years.
Students now have the option to learn even when they are not inside the classroom. Apart from that, they can now apply the things they learned and even get credit for using them to real-world projects outside the classroom.
Rather than sit through hours and hours of lessons in class and then take an unnecessarily long Scantron test that would determine their mark, students can now manage their time more properly and experience the real-world all the while learning and getting credit for it.
Flexibility is the biggest advantage that hybrid course provides. Several studies have shown that time management is positively correlated to the grades of the students. That said, giving students the flexibility as well as breathing room to pace and adjust to their ever-changing class schedule every year, then it would also positively affect their class or course performance as well.
After years of tutoring students, we found that some students are not necessarily lacking when it comes to academic and intellectual standing. Some are just having a hard time managing their time and juggling schoolwork, chores, family problems, and so on.
By simply adopting hybrid learning, we would not only be helping students do well in school, but we would also be alleviating their problems as well as lessening their stress.
Neurobiology helps to increase the efficiency of hybrid learning
Neuroscience helps in the creation of hybrid learning techniques. For example, one of its discoveries is that the optimal window of active cognition usually lasts about ten minutes. This means that we understand and learn best during the ten-minute intervals, after which our concentration worsens.
There is a good reason for this. When the first people lived in a hostile environment, it ensured that their attention was never too absorbed in one thing for too long. Otherwise, the chances of getting caught in the clutches of a predator increased.
We inherited this pattern from our ancestors, and in moments of fatigue or stress, our window of cognition shrinks as well. The brain’s ability to process information is also impaired when we continue a ten-minute cognitive session without a rest break.
This is one of the discoveries that help, for example, when preparing training video content for the remote lessons.
What skills need to be developed in today’s students?
Today’s students are becoming more independent, and the challenge for teachers is to help them develop these two fundamental skills: critical thinking and self-management.
There are a number of methods that can be used to unlock these competencies. An example of this is the Socratic Questions method. This approach develops students’ reasoning skills by teaching them to formulate well-thought-out questions and answers. When children explain a topic on their own, conducting self-presentations, the teacher better understands how they came to their conclusions and the reasoning they used.
That said, we have listed some skills that students can develop as well as indicated a few teaching methods that can help hone these acquired skills.
Logic and Reasoning
While time-pressure exams teach students to be more resilient, it does not necessarily improve or hone their reasoning skills. So to rectify the situation, our education system should be flexible as well. It should give students the freedom to absorb and think through the course material at their own pace.
As we have mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to improve a student’s logic and reasoning is by using the Socratic method approach. Rather than have them sit through an entire Scantron exam, they can instead internalize and better understand the material on their own.
Inventiveness and Creativity
Given that hybrid learning combine both face-to-face and online classes, there are instances where some students might not even see their teachers or classmates in person. So in order to fill these gaps, group projects and class activity are the best way to make students feel welcome and needed in the classroom.
That being said, many teachers are now starting to incorporate project-based learning into their curriculum. Even though learning activities have already been implemented even before hybrid learning, what makes it different in a distance learning environment is it creates a shared and well-paced learning environment for the student.
With the generous amount of time that students have to accomplish their project, it opens more room for creativity and better output. Rather than simply getting the project over and done, students would put it in more effort because they have more time to work on it on their own or with their classmates.
Teamwork and Time Management
Hybrid learning also gives students an opportunity to work with a team at their own pace. Rather than forcing them to do group works during class hours, they can instead work better with their teammates with their chosen time and schedule. This would not only improve their skill to work with a team, but they would also optimize their time management skill. Given that hybrid learning is flexible when it comes to group works, students, as well as their team members, would have to create and manage their own schedule to finish their group work.
That said, the most obvious approach to improve these skills is to adapt collaborative learning. Creating and learning new information with other people makes the project more fun and exciting.
Balanced and Reflective
One of the things that the traditional approach miss is to teach their students how to be balanced and reflective with all their actions. Allowing students some time to calculate their decisions and reflect on their actions is the most valuable skill that they could ever learn. It may not necessarily help them academically, but being balanced and reflective are the most basic foundation that would help them hone and acquire more skills in the long run.
Rather than just carry on with their usual routine and do things repeatedly for the next 12 years, hybrid learning opens up a new opportunity for students to be more self-aware and in control of their own actions instead. It makes them more accountable with their actions and even more discerning with all of the things happening around them. By being balanced and reflective, students would not easily get influenced by vices and other things that might harm them or others.
The teaching approach that pairs well with this skill is problem-based learning. A perfect example of this teaching approach is the trolley problem. Rather than read off the definition of utilitarianism from a textbook, students are given an opportunity to think and reflect on their decision more carefully. In a hybrid learning environment, students would have more time to internalize their decision. They would not have to make a decision on-the-spot without being reflective about their decision.
Hybrid learning means simultaneously teaching students face-to-face in the classroom and using online tools (video conferencing services, LMS). Hybrid learning purposes vary greatly depending on the subject being taught and the needs of the students.
The biggest advantage that hybrid learning has to offer is flexibility. Gone are the days when students had to go to school like it is a 9-to-5 job.
With the help of hybrid learning, students now have more time to focus and even master subjects that they genuinely like.
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