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Hybrid Learning in 2020 – Accelerating the Technological Renaissance

Hybrid Learning Illustration

2020 has forever changed education. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered unprecedented acceleration of technical advancements in educational practices and shined a light on the bridge to the new normal for education. Hybrid learning is a critical part of that bridge.

Businesses and public education have needed to review methods for training and learning, not only to maintain connectivity and production during the emergency, but after it subsides and the world experiences a learning renaissance.

Online learning, previously viewed as little more than a bolt-on option, has quickly taken center stage. Learners benefit from having access to on-demand and flexible remote learning options combined with more traditional support from face-to-face classroom interaction with instructors, team members, and other learners.

Once we return to the physical training room or classroom, online learning will have a new place in education’s hierarchy. Learners will not have to choose one or the other: face-to-face learning or online education, but will have access to a hybrid model that combines the best of both worlds. The two will work in tandem to create a seamless partnership that will impact students’ lives in grade school, college, the workplace, and beyond.

What is Hybrid Learning?

Hybrid learning is an innovative education methodology that provides instruction using a combination of remote and in-person strategies.

While it may sound simple, the hybrid model revolutionizes learning. Hybrid learning, when compared to the traditional model, is largely self-directed and transforms the traditional teacher from “sage on the stage” to the much more effective “guide from the side.” Instructors now serve as coaches and mentors rather than wardens of the education process.

Many mistakenly assume they’ve adopted hybrid learning by simply adding a few online options to their training toolbox. However, hybrid learning goes beyond traditional, more passive virtual training methods by creating a more engaging experience that enables virtual learners to interact with the instructor and other learners as though they were physically present in the room.

Hybrid learning is going to be widely used going forward. Learning has always been essential. However, in a world where the only constant is change, the time has come to make a change in how we learn. Educational institutions and corporations alike must be willing to adapt and accept more effective methods of providing access to new information.

Benefits of Hybrid Learning

The traditional model is obsolete. With constant access to unlimited information, the traditional model is becoming a thing of the past. Exam-based learning that requires knowledge retention and memorization has been rendered obsolete and replaced with learning that encourages selecting and applying the right information to identify problems and design solutions.

The new workforce will expect it. Group work has been gaining traction in education for some time. Millennials, often called digital natives, grew up on technology and will expect a relevant technologically charged structure — like the hybrid model — for collaborating with one another.

Hybrid learning is self-directed. The hybrid model empowers the learner with independence. Especially in the remote portion of the hybrid model, learners self-direct when accomplishing coursework. The in-person experience is typically optional and the scheduling burden that results from a like-it-or-not classroom requirement is removed.

Remote interaction levels the playing field. In physical classrooms, extroverted students tend to dominate class discussion, which can intimidate introverted students and limit their contributions. Remote interaction, whether verbal or written, can provide additional opportunities for introverted or ESL participants to contribute. Such contributions are becoming increasingly important in today’s workforce.

Opportunities to connect in-person still exist. The hybrid model recognizes the benefits of instructor-led training sessions. It can be more natural and comfortable to network and obtain extra reinforcement and explanation when in-person. Face-to-face interaction is meaningful in establishing relationships and rapport that enable risk taking.

Learning gains momentum. The traditional learning model often requires time spent in-person absorbing presented information, when this time could be used more productively for collaboration. The hybrid model allows for prerequisite reading that increases effectiveness of time spent physically together. In addition, once the class is over, there are opportunities to maintain momentum through remote work.

Studies show it’s the most effective learning method. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education summarized research from more than a thousand studies measuring the effectiveness of online, hybrid, and in-person learning and found hybrid learning to be the most effective form of learning. While many have reservations about transitioning to an entirely remote learning model, hybrid models are viewed in a much more positive light. Research conducted by Dædalus suggests that hybrid learning models have the potential for customization that can greatly benefit students who struggle with learning.

How to Maximize Engagement using Hybrid Learning

Simply incorporating technology into the traditional model won’t engage learners. How instructors leverage that technology is the key.

  • Get ready to pivot and keep an open mind. Even the most successful instructors will need to become proficient in using new tools and modify lesson plans and assessment methodologies to accommodate the new learning model.
  • Incorporate data analytics to motivate and reinforce positive participation. Analytics that manage remote assessment data can also help design future content strategy and customize learning for each student.
  • Consider online forums such as wikis and blogs that can deepen and customize learning content, provide additional context, and facilitate a collaborative environment for teaching and learning.
  • Take advantage of the convenience that the hybrid model provides. Not everyone -both learners and presenters —can attend classes or training in-person. The convenience offered by hybrid learning improves attendance rates and, accordingly, overall learning. Hybrid learning also provides additional opportunities to choose guest speakers from a larger talent pool and with more relevance who can now participate remotely.
  • Choose platforms or services that offer 2-way HD audio and video connections and robust virtual collaboration tools, like shared whiteboards, instant messaging, virtual hand raising, and games, that ensure remote learners are not simply passive observers in the training session.

For years, the education system has been enduring tremendous scrutiny. Perhaps this pandemic that has disrupted education, along with every other aspect of life as we know it, will encourage an educational reformation that will move toward hybrid learning and change education for the better.

Interested in learning more about designing a hybrid learning strategy? Attune is an industry-leading, single source provider of business training experts. Attune offers full-service enterprise solutions where they will coordinate your entire training (i.e., room rental, instructor sourcing, content development, catering, etc.). Contact Attune today to learn more.