Hybrid learning: it's not a trend, it's the future
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced significant and often rapid changes to everyone’s lives, there is no doubt about that. Back when it started, the whole World had to quickly adjust to the changing situation in order to keep everybody safe. We saw people closing their restaurants, countries banning any forms of travel, and hospitals operating at double capacity to treat all of their patients.
The education industry was also heavily affected. Students and teachers were forced to change their learning patterns, interactions between them suddenly had to take place online, and lecture theaters were replaced with dorm rooms. Of course, we are talking about remote teaching.
However, some countries were actually able to take a slightly different, blended approach called hybrid learning, introducing a solution that is considered innovative and efficient. But why is it thought of in this way?
The main focus of this article is to find out more about hybrid learning - its benefits, challenges, plus ways to make it a positive and profitable experience.
If you are a teacher or school principal looking to learn why hybrid learning is here to stay with us, this article is for you. After reading it, you will no longer have any doubts about whether or not you should implement hybrid teaching into your education plan. Without further ado, let's see what all the hype is about.
What is hybrid education?
Hybrid learning is a type of approach to education that combines remote and face to face learning in order to enhance student engagement and ensure continuity of learning. The importance of this is particularly apparent when schools are partially opened or to prevent the possible spread of disease, as in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hybrid approach to teaching is a blended form of both remote and in-person models. In practice, hybrid learning is a flexible approach that allows for a variety of different learning methods and practices, both physical and virtual, to take place in order to create a coherent learning experience.
Benefits of hybrid learning
Like everything, hybrid education has a set of attractive benefits as well as some not-so-great disadvantages. Can the former make us forget about the latter?
First of all, hybrid learning offers both teachers and students a lot of flexibility. We live in times when finishing a university degree with little or no experience will most likely stand in a student’s way of landing their dream job. For this reason, more and more students are proactively engaging with various extracurricular activities and working part-time jobs. All of this obviously requires plenty of time, which is when hybrid learning comes in handy.
#2 Saving time on commuting
In addition, those who live far from campus surely know the difficulties of travelling back and forth, sometimes several times during a day, just to attend 3 or 4 teaching sessions with students. Hybrid learning allows people to take up more responsibilities in their lives without worrying about having to constantly be present on campus
Moreover, hybrid teaching allows teachers and students to save on costs such as transportation, commuting, textbooks, and even accommodation. For this reason, more and more schools have decided to implement hybrid teaching - not just out of necessity, but from pure willingness. Textbooks, bus tickets, and university accommodation in particular can all be quite pricey. With some of these costs out of the way, students will not have to worry about their finances as much as usual and can focus on their degrees. This unravels yet another great thing about hybrid education: learning convenience and effectiveness.
#3 More ways to utilize free time
Hybrid learning allows staff and students to teach and study, respectively, much more conveniently. All that time saved on transportation can be utilized better and spent on furthering their understanding of content or working on assignments. For teachers like you, this means that your students can understand your modules much better and will certainly result in enhanced learning. Moreover, as a teacher, you will have more time to better prepare your module content, evaluate your students’ performance and, in general, focus on your work.
#4 Education accessible to more people
Another great benefit of hybrid education is the fact that it makes studying and earning a degree much more accessible to a wider range of society, not just people of ‘student age’. Think about single parents, mature students, young adults, international students, and those with disabilities or specific learning difficulties. Hybrid education makes it much easier for all of these people to actually start and finish a course or degree.
#5 Developing real life skills
Last but not least, hybrid education is a huge real life skill teaching opportunity, not only for students but for teachers as well. This is because being able to complete assignments in a timely manner while studying far from campus, often at home in a monotonous environment, requires a lot of discipline, dedication, and self-motivation. The same applies for teachers too. Despite still having to show up to some face-to-face sessions, remote teaching from the comfort of an academics’ house can be challenging at times. Therefore, hybrid teaching undoubtedly aids with reinforcing life skills.
Obstacles to hybrid education
#1 Lack of experience
First and foremost, not every teacher may actually have the experience and knowledge to design integrated student journeys across both online and face to face teaching methods. What should be remembered is that there are teachers out there who may still have a rather conservative and traditional approach to teaching. For this reason, and because of their age, they might not be fully able to provide students with a hybrid learning model that would be efficient and well-structured.
#2 Operational complexity
Another drawback of hybrid learning is that it brings about quite a lot of operational complexity. Consider all of the platforms that you have to set up for communication, lectures, video meetings, and perhaps even online exams for yourself and your students. Everything should be secure and easy to use so that it can be accessed by all students.
#3 Problem with access to devices
Here we can not help but think about another con: not every student and teacher may have access to devices that allow them to participate in online classes. Although it is unlikely, it is still possible, and this is when hybrid education would not be the best idea. Unless a school is able to provide students with devices like laptops and tablets, hybrid learning could actually become exclusive to those with the privilege of having access to the necessary devices.
#4 Cognitive load
Hybrid education also allows teachers to implement more activities. In a situation like this, students may experience a cognitive load and become overwhelmed with module content. This causes them to study less effectively and achieve worse results while lowering the school’s performance and statistics. Keep this in mind as a teacher who surely wants your students to succeed.
Challenges of hybrid education
Now that you know the pros and cons of hybrid learning, we would like to focus further on the challenges that teachers and students might face when it comes to this type of education:
#1 Online temptations
Number one on our list is online temptations. As already mentioned, hybrid learning requires a lot of discipline and dedication. This type of learning means that students and teachers have to use devices connected to the Internet in order to be able to participate in classes. There would be nothing wrong with that, if being online did not also mean having access right under our noses to things like:
- social media platforms
- computer games
- video and music streaming platforms
- online shopping websites
People, especially students, can get distracted very easily and lose track of lectures. The same applies to teachers, actually. When we attend classes at home, we lose the feeling of being constantly watched and controlled by others. This problem is so big that some people decided to find a solution for it: TikTok.
While scrolling through the app, we can often see live streams of students just… studying. Why do they do that? According to their reasoning, they do it because, ironically, it is the only way they can prevent themselves from scrolling social media platforms and instead focus on studying. A solution is a solution, right? To cater to this obstacle, several educational institutions are turning towards Mobile Device Management solutions to secure their learning devices handed over to students, and restrict the devices' usage to permitted websites and apps only. This ensures that the devices are used only for educational purposes, and do not encourage distraction in students.
#2 Passive learning
With hybrid learning, students are often simply given tasks to complete on their own. With in-person learning, like seminars and lectures, students get the chance to engage with their peers and the teacher, as well as to ask questions. When it comes to online, pre-recorded lectures, students do not get this chance.
They end up being left alone with course material unless they take the initiative and reach out to the teacher, which is considered extra effort. After all, who would bother writing an email about just one thing they do not understand? For this reason, students’ learning experiences can be damaged and their education worsened.
#3 Technical difficulties
Despite the fact we live in highly developed and technology-driven times, IT literacy can still be a problem for some. First of all, students and teachers may experience issues when trying to access tools and applications that are simply not supported by their devices.
Not everyone can access the newest laptops/computers on the market, which can effortlessly deal with various software. Moreover, some platforms can be very complex in terms of their usage. Adopting platforms that both students and teachers may struggle to use would be a total waste of time.
Last but not least, engagement can be a difficult matter, too. Although hybrid learning gives students and teachers much more freedom and flexibility, you should pay attention to making sure they are not overused.
Staying at home can be tricky and demotivating. You might start putting everything off for later and end up being flooded with materials. Procrastination is a real issue and can significantly worsen one’s learning experience. This is exactly why hybrid teaching can be dangerous, especially for those who are not very good at learning on their own and prefer study sessions with more people.
With hybrid education, it is much less likely that teachers will be able to see their students on a regular basis. Such irregularity significantly contributes to worsening their learning experiences.
Looking at all of these challenges, one would probably come to the conclusion that online temptations and engagement are the biggest threats to the effectiveness of hybrid teaching.
Is hybrid education here to stay?
Despite its challenges, hybrid learning is definitely here to stay. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated its implementation. Today, people are eager to have a lot of the flexibility and freedom that hybrid education offers.
Statistics do not lie. According to research, 82% of students prefer hybrid learning to traditional education. When it comes to teachers, 73% of them claim that hybrid education actually increases the engagement of their students. As such, teachers must adapt to this emerging trend and ensure they deliver high quality education. Hybrid education also opns door for unis and colleges to expand their operations. For example, a free college in Europe can now operate both on-site on the continent, and run classes overseas.
Below you will find our guide to running efficient hybrid learning that will help you stand out from others and ensure your students are happy with the quality of teaching they receive.
How to run efficient hybrid education: good practices
#1 Engage your students
As already mentioned, engagement can be quite difficult when it comes to hybrid education. Therefore, try making the part of your teaching that takes places outside of the university campus fun and engaging. Various quizzes and polls could be a good shout here according to 43% of students from one study, especially when you are running a webinar.
To keep your students engaged, incorporate mystery into your lessons to make them interesting and exciting. Using various technologies and tools will help you do so. You could also ask students to prepare lectures for everyone else - they will better engage with the material, and others will most likely pay more attention to such classes once they see a new face. The key should be avoiding monotony.
Also, remember about taking a friendly approach. Let students know you are there to help them and that they are not alone.
#2 Create a consistent learning plan
Blending both in-person and online teaching can definitely be challenging. Before you decide to give hybrid education a try, make sure you plan your teaching agenda in advance. You want to make sure that both your online and offline methods blend together with each other perfectly.
Think about what type of content you have to deliver, as well as the ways to do it. For example, let’s say that you have regular lectures, seminars, workshops and several movies to cover with your students. You might decide that lectures and movies will be part of the online teaching, while seminars and workshops will be held in person. Knowing your course well and what your students are like will definitely help you figure out the best recipe for hybrid education.
#3 Avoid excessive invigilation and have some trust
There is nothing worse than showing your students that you do not trust them. They will automatically lose interest and feel under pressure. If you want hybrid education to work for you and your students, you have to let them work without checking up on them constantly. Moreover, remember that hybrid learning is also about flexibility. Therefore, you should understand that not every student will engage with your material right after you publish it on a Monday morning.
Do not panic and try to cut down on your invigilation methods. Instead, ask students regularly if they need help with your material. This is a much less invasive and obvious control method that will allow you to see who regularly engages with your module. Showing that you trust your students will be a great signal for them that they can be given important tasks and as such will boost their confidence.
#4 Check up on students regularly and motivate them
Just because excessive invigilation is not recommended, this does not mean you should not care about your students’ progress at all. The key should be finding a way to do it gently and in a friendly manner. No one likes being controlled, that is for sure. But a friendly question every now and then regarding your students’ progress will certainly be appreciated. Teachers should be mentors and therefore motivating your students should be one of your everyday practices.
You could do this in various ways, for example by:
- promoting growth
- developing respectful and meaningful relationships with your students
- being inspirational
- offering rewards and positive competition
- being clear about learning objectives
- establishing an environment free of threats
A lot depends on your approach and mindset, actually. If you are a passionate person who was born to teach other people, your students will love you for it. People often tend to mirror the behaviour of others, which is why analyzing your approach and attitude would be a good starting point.
#5 Be creative and innovative
According to Albert Einstein, “creativity is intelligence having fun”. Does that sound like something you would like to incorporate into your teaching methods? If “yes” is your answer, you have some work to do before starting hybrid teaching.
Start with some brainstorming. Maybe your perfect creative approach is closer than you think. Look around and think how you could make your students eager to attend your next class. You could, for example, check with your colleagues to see what works. Starting student notebooks for ideas would be a good idea too.
In addition, be aware of existing technologies and do not neglect their importance and innovativeness. Today’s students love modern and fun activities. Once you learn how to stand out from other classes, your students will willingly attend meetings with you. All you have to do is think outside the box a little!
#6 Ask for feedback
Giving students feedback is as important as receiving it. If both you and your students are new to hybrid teaching, you should make sure your efforts do not go to waste. To do this, you need to obtain feedback about your performance.
Now, we know that students often do not like giving feedback. It could be because they are scared, shy, or simply do not know how to rate their learning experience. There is a solution for that. What you have to do is find a way that allows your students to rate your efforts in a non-invasive way, and of course without wasting their time. Such feedback collection methods should be quick and easy. Try out:
- end-of-course evaluation
- delayed course evaluation
- pre-course surveys and questionnaires
- feedback loops embedded into the course
- student feedback teams
- regular office hours
There are plenty of options to choose from, so we are sure you will find something that works for both you and your students. Such feedback will allow you to consistently improve your approach to hybrid education and show your students that you care about their opinions.
#7 Set clear rules and guidelines at the beginning
Everyone likes to know where they stand, especially students who have just been introduced to a totally new form of learning. Set clear rules and guidelines at the very beginning of your experience with hybrid teaching and stick to them.
Harmony and stability will contribute to creating a well-balanced learning environment that allows you to avoid confusion and mistakes. One good practice is going through all of the rules and instructions at the very beginning of a course or module. This is the perfect opportunity for you to ensure that all of your students understand and agree with them. This exact moment would also be ideal for any questions from your students, should something be unclear.
#8 Invest in the right tools for communication
Since some part of your communication with students will take place virtually, you should think in advance about what sort of tools you are going to use. When picking your favorites, try asking yourself questions like:
- Is this tool worth the cost? (if it is not free)
- Is this tool easy to use?
- Will my students like it?
- Does it offer useful features that will benefit me and my students?
- Will my school/university allow for this tool to be used?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, you should probably pick those tools.
Some of the communication channels and tools you may have to consider implementing (if you have not already done so) are: social media platforms, email, Google Docs, and LiveWebinar.
Moreover, for an overall satisfying experience, you may want to consider making sure that your devices like headphones, microphones, cameras, and laptops, etc. are all working and up to date. Doing so will allow you to avoid wasting your time on constantly adjusting your camera, fixing broken headphones, or waiting for your laptop to reboot 5 minutes before a video meeting with your class.
#9 Monitor attendance
Do not forget that hybrid teaching is still teaching, meaning that students should attend online meetings and engage with the given course materials. For this reason, you may want to track their attendance regularly, as well as see how they engage with the content. There are plenty of tools to do this, actually. Check with your dedicated platform if it offers any analytics and reporting features.
Sometimes students may feel like just because some teaching takes place online that it is not mandatory. You should pay attention to students like this and make them realize that they are in fact wrong. Try doing it in a friendly and non-invasive manner. Explain to your students that attendance is important and helps ensure that students engage with the obligatory content. Numerous scholars have found a strong positive correlation between regular attendance and course grades over time, so it is extremely important that students show up to your classes after all.
LiveWebinar - the perfect solution for hybrid education
One of the great ways to gather your students together in a fun and engaging atmosphere is by giving a webinar. Webinars are online events that can be hosted by teachers like you for students. They are the equivalent of seminars, with the only difference being that they take place completely online. This means that they are a perfect fit with hybrid learning since you and your students can attend webinars from anywhere in the World. Amazing, right?
Webinars are great if you are looking for new ways to engage with your students that are different from traditional lectures or presentations.
How can you and your students benefit from webinars? Here are some of the benefits that you can expect from implementing webinars into your hybrid teaching strategy:
Who said that online lectures have to be boring and look totally different from those that take place in real life? Modern webinar platforms offer teachers the possibility of using blackboard features to make online classes feel like real ones.
Teachers can draw on screen, making it easier for students to absorb knowledge.
Tests, questionnaires, polls, surveys, and more
Everyone knows how voting in a real classroom works. Students usually raise their hands and the teacher counts all of the votes. Alternatively, a teacher may ask their students to write answers to a specific question on a piece of paper and leave it on their desks before they leave the lecture hall.
In the world of online classes, no one has to waste paper or raise their hands. Everything takes place online thanks to features like online tests, questionnaires, and voting. As a teacher, you can immediately see the results of such polls and tests within your webinar platform.
Sometimes teachers find themselves needing to discuss something privately with one student, for example about feedback. Sometimes students also wish to ask teachers questions in private simply because they may be shy or embarrassed.
During online classes, you need a special tool that will let you have one to one conversations with your students, without ending an ongoing online meeting for everyone else in the class. A good and effective webinar platform will allow you to do this quickly and effortlessly. The feature is called breakout rooms and it is a great way to conveniently switch between different rooms with your students.
- Attendance monitoring
Last but not least, modern webinar platforms let you forget about having to always check student attendance, simply because they do it for you. This is another great thing about webinars and hybrid learning.
Why should you pick LiveWebinar?
If you found all of the above features interesting, you no longer have to worry about finding them. LiveWebinar has them all and many more for you to use.
LiveWebinar is a trusted and reliable webinar platform that meets the needs of even the most demanding teachers. What else can you expect from us when you decide to run webinars on our platform as a teacher? Let’s see:
- continual assistance from our customer support team
- access to a modern and highly-developed webinar platform with an extremely user-friendly interface
- various teaching materials tailored to your needs
- the highest level of security, with the possibility to protect online classrooms using various passwords, tokens, unique room addresses, member authorization, and waiting rooms for incoming participants
Do not be like 45% of teachers who still claim to not be prepared enough for online teaching and take things into your own hands now! With an effective platform like LiveWebinar, you will do so with smiles on your and your students’ faces.
Even more possibilities: LiveWebinar for Enterprise hybrid learning
Make your hybrid school a great experience for students - meet LiveWebinar Enterprise
In spite of the robust features of LiveWebinar's paid packages, there is even more you can do to make hybrid learning successful. You can choose from a wide range of enterprise-level options delivered by LiveWebinar and customized to fit your specific requirements.
Here’s what is awaiting you in the Enterprise hybrid school package:
- individual customer support around the clock, including help with implementation and support
- full customization options - your hybrid school or class can look exactly how you want it to look
- extensive branding features, allowing our clients to adjust each and every element in the software - over 1500 elements can be customized!
- extra interactive features to make the most of hybrid and online classes, including Website Presenter, boosting collaboration
- personalized reports and analytics to embrace bottlenecks and evaluate the overall performance
- an efficient and secure platform to ensure the highest levels of security and quality
- anything you would like to see and implement. Let us know and we’ll make it happen. Make your school YOUR school, with you
Help develop tomorrow's innovators. LiveWebinar lets you create an online classroom that almost feels like the real thing, whether you're teaching young children or college students. By integrating the platform with Learning Management Systems and other platforms such as Moodle, you can provide your students with a one-stop-shop for all their academic needs.
Do not rely on popular platforms (let us not point the names here) that do not offer customized solutions.
The lack of personalization leads to a negative, bland, and very flat experience for students.
Instead, make it cool with LiveWebinar.
Extra: checklist to download - Is hybrid teaching for you? Quick test!
- Are you a creative individual?
- Would you like to acquire new learning methods?
- Do you have faith in your students?
- Do you know how to ‘trust the process’?
- Are you open to learning how to use new technologies and tools?
- Do you like experimenting and trying new things?
- Are you open to criticism?
- Would you be interested in a teaching method that offers more freedom and flexibility?
- Are you good at setting clear rules and instructions?
- Do you believe in the future of hybrid education and its benefits?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you are ready to give hybrid teaching a try. Remember that how you approach hybrid teaching is completely up to you. However, your key priorities should be centered around the good of you and your students.
Hybrid teaching - the new reality?
Hybrid education undoubtedly has many good sides. Although it also has its cons, it seems to be becoming a more widely and commonly adopted teaching model Worldwide. Due to the fact that it blends in-person and remote teaching, it has a wide range of benefits that stem from both of these approaches to education.
To summarize, in this article we introduced you to hybrid learning, explained this term, as well as carefully considered both the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach to education.
Looking at its challenges, we were able to discover what potential threats students and teachers could face when it comes to a blended learning pattern. They turned out to be engagement, online temptations, the possibility of passive learning, and technological constraints, with the first two being the biggest factors that contribute to negatively affecting the effectiveness of hybrid education.
Last but not least, we shared with you our top efficient hybrid learning practices, which we are sure you will find useful and helpful.
Do not forget to take our little test to see whether or not hybrid teaching is a good fit for you as a teacher.
If you found this article interesting, make sure to check out our other publications, which are mostly focused on the topic of webinars - a great way to connect with your students during times like these and in the future.