In hybrid or virtual Learning, educators are delivering equitable, engaging and student-centered instruction through supportive online learning communities. In this model, students are engaging with web-based content and emphasis is placed on finding ways to collaborate, build relationships, and embed interaction into the learning. In effective hybrid or virtual learning, there is a bigger shift in the teacher role as they move from an instructor to a facilitator and coach. This model offers more flexibility and accessibility to students who may not be well-served in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting.
There are many interlocking pieces that must be navigated to create an effective hybrid or virtual learning experience. You have to consider equity (Do all of my students have access to the learning?), engagement (Are my learning activities both interesting and effective?), logistics (How will my students access the content?), impact (How will I assess my students' learning?), parent involvement (How can I partner with parents from afar?), and more.
In order to create an effective hybrid or virtual learning experience for students, we believe that it is key to keep the solution in mind: in this case, a learning experience that is engaging, meaningful, and effective for students.
If you've recently made a transition to hybrid or virtual learning or are planning for it, you are likely wondering about some of the following:
Equity: How can I ensure that all learning activities are accessible to all students? How will I support students with special needs, without reliable access to devices and the internet, or with limited English proficiency?
Meaningful learning: How can I ensure a culture of high expectations and academic rigor continues despite the disruption of normal learning activities and classroom culture?
Logistics: How do I figure out the tools, resources, and skills I need to facilitate effective and engaging distance learning?
Community: How can I connect and communicate on a personal level with my students from afar, and build in opportunities for collaboration and community between students?
Fortunately, successful implementation of hybrid or virtual learning presents exciting opportunities for both teachers and students.
Personalization: The availability of high-quality digital content, online tools, and adaptive softwares makes it possible for teachers to be more responsive in real-time to individual students' needs. Digital assessment tools can help teachers easily identify trends and design customized supports and growth opportunities for students.
21st-Century skills: Hybrid or virtual learning gives students practice with crucial real-world skills such as using new technology, managing their time independently, and collaborating virtually with peers and instructors.
Teacher and student role: In a hybrid or virtual learning setting, the teacher role shifts to that of a coach/facilitator, rather than a "sage on the stage", which can lead students to feel more ownership over their learning and growth.
Creativity: The innovation required to shift to hybrid or virtual learning draws on teachers' creativity, encourages experimentation, and teaches new ways of delivering content.
Flexibility: By blending both synchronous and asynchronous learning activities, and providing students with choice over their activities, pacing, and demonstration of mastery, teachers can provide flexibility for students and families that allows them to maximize their own learning.