Let’s reimagine hybrid learning and improve education outcomes for all students

By definition, the word hybrid means “composed of mixed parts.” Until now, that has meant two parts: in school – where we largely haven’t been since mid-March – and at home.

When COVID-19 hit, we shut the classroom door and jumped into virtual learning with virtually no planning. Planning includes, but is not limited to, physical preparation and measures, social adaptation, ensuring emotional well-being, reassessing traditional educational standards – seeing them through a new lens – and having flexible systems ready.

In spite of most parties’ best efforts, results were abysmal.

Related content: The blended learning models that can help schools reopen

Now, with the nation’s fall and winter school plans often changing based on COVID metrics, we have the chance to add critical nuance and dimension to hybrid learning and set ourselves up for a higher level of success. The biggest mistake we can make is to replicate what we had done before – the physical school paradigm or the virtual experiment we were forced to construct this past spring.

There’s no denying that hybrid, or blended, learning will usher in the 2020-21 school year, and potentially stay for the foreseeable future. The good news is that we’ve learned a lot since March that we can put to good use.

Even more promising is that we are not locked into how we did things in the past, because the past is no longer an option. It is time to deliberately shape hybrid learning to maximize success for students, teachers, and families.

By definition, the word hybrid means “composed of mixed parts.” Until now, that has meant two parts: in school – where we largely haven’t been since mid-March – and at home.

When COVID-19 hit, we shut the classroom door and jumped into virtual learning with virtually no planning. Planning includes, but is not limited to, physical preparation and measures, social adaptation, ensuring emotional wellbeing, reassessing traditional educational standards – seeing them through a new lens – and having flexible systems ready.

In spite of most parties’ best efforts, results were abysmal.

Now, with the nation’s back-to-school plans forming, we have the chance to add critical nuance and dimension to hybrid learning and set ourselves up for a higher level of success. The biggest mistake we can make is to replicate what we had done before – the physical school paradigm or the virtual experiment we were forced to construct this past spring.

There’s no denying that hybrid, or blended, learning will usher in the 2020-21 school year, and potentially stay for the foreseeable future. The good news is that we’ve learned a lot since March that we can put to good use.

Even more promising is that we are not locked into how we did things in the past, because the past is no longer an option. It is time to deliberately shape hybrid learning to maximize success for students, teachers, and families.

Here are three hybrid learning strategies to fuse into our planning:

1. There’s no “one size fits all” hybrid learning.
Today’s education discussion focuses, understandably, on whether to physically go back to our school buildings and classrooms full-time, part time, or not at all. Safety comes first, but I suggest that we spend less time arguing about when kids should go to school and think harder about why kids and teachers need to be physically present in the school building. The answer ultimately lies in measuring student achievement, and understanding how it takes place within different settings, but for now, I suggest we base it on a logical examination of what works best in a number of physical environments and learning platforms.

The traditional classroom environment certainly provides advantages. It’s where educators can effectively teach new concepts, lead class discussions, coach individuals and small groups, and give real time feedback. Beyond academic measures, they can gauge and flag the socio-emotional wellbeing of a student who may be experiencing less than optimal conditions at home–even abuse. Schools also afford access to social workers, health professionals, and guidance counselors. Importantly, they feed our nation’s children. In 2018, schools served 29.7 million K-12 children with low-cost or free lunches.

While more challenging in many ways, online learning also lends itself to certain benefits and positive outcomes. Students with ample access to technology may learn faster online than in the classroom. Research shows that online learning requires 40-60 percent less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can move at their own pace. Note that this is strictly incumbent on all students and households having requisite technology and reliable, high-speed internet access, which is far from the case today–particularly in urban communities amongst students of color.

I cannot stress enough how this imperative must be addressed if we plan to give all students an equal chance. This calls for a long-term vision, public-private partnerships, and financial commitments, which will surely aid in our nation’s economic comeback.

Trying to replicate the old school model is a dead-end street, but trying to adapt successful online strategies in lieu of other activities, like personal enrichment, wellness and workout programs, and others can inform how we structure virtual learning for students, teachers, and families. There is a world of online success stories out there and we should be continuously sharing best practices. Just one example comes from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan created InPACT@Home, a fitness program that offers free, online workouts developed by phys ed teachers across the state for students.
source: Read More, eSchool News

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