Hybrid education is a mix between in-person and remote learning. In recent months, its adoption has greatly accelerated. A growing number of institutions are now incorporating hybrid education.

Despite the challenges for both teachers and students, this moment represents a tremendous opportunity to ensure our education system's continuity and resilience when faced with similar crises in the future.

Teachers still need to develop their educational content to fit into a hybrid format. And students need to incorporate key practices to more easily adapt to remote learning and grading.

 

How can our schools incorporate hybrid education?

There is currently a lot of talk about hybrid education, even though the concept is not new. In fact, from the early days of computerisation in the 1980s, stakeholders involved in education have constantly offered new solutions, in the form of software or applications, with multiple objectives.

There is currently a lot of talk about hybrid education, even though the concept is not new. In fact, from the early days of computerisation in the 1980s, stakeholders involved in education have constantly offered new solutions, in the form of software or applications, with multiple objectives.

 

Combining in-person and remote education

Remote education has also been a means of democratising access to knowledge. This is especially the case for those for whom physical, geographic or professional constraints have prevented them from pursuing studies.

Increasingly popular, hybrid education goes by several names and definitions. It may be called mixed, flexible learning or blended learning.

Regardless of the name, it always refers to a blending of in-person and remote education. Originally, this did not consist of trying to replace traditional courses with digital educational tools, but rather to combine online and in-class components. The objective is thus to better meet students' needs and their educational goals.

Flexible learning

One of the primary characteristics of hybrid education is its flexibility. It offers greater accessibility by reducing space and time constraints. It also enables students to better manage between their studies, work and personal life.

Moreover, this flexibility largely depends on the degree of hybridity. Even if there is no hard and fast rule on the matter, institutions (including the University of Ottawa) generally classify a course as hybrid when 20 to 80% of the educational content is available online.

 

How should we rethink our courses in light of hybrid education?

In the current context, teachers have had no choice but to retool their courses and make them hybrid.

 

Pedagogical practices to follow

The challenge was not only to put a few activities online, but to design new tools and pedagogical practices. Teachers should particularly take into account the following:

Place the student at the heart of teaching: Hybrid education increases the importance of the student's motivation and autonomy. This is particularly the case if the student's relatives have limited availability to support them. Indeed, students are normally used to being supervised, guided, and subject to strict schedules. To encourage them, it's important to promote different styles of learning, grading and self-reflection.
Offer active and results-oriented learning: simply by being student-centred, hybrid education allows for different modalities and activities. This pushes students to take a more active role rather than just spectate. The current situation has also reinforced the importance of authentic exercises (such as assessing the credibility of a source) to protect students' interests and their connection with the educational system.
Offer active and results-oriented learning: simply by being student-centred, hybrid education allows for different modalities and activities. This pushes students to take a more active role rather than just spectate. The current situation has also reinforced the importance of authentic exercises (such as assessing the credibility of a source) to protect students' interests and their connection with the educational system.
Guide teachers and students: hybrid education involves the use of new tools. This also requires implementing new practices for teachers and students to follow. Guidance is crucial to ensure a smooth transition and to maximise the benefits of remote learning.

 

A generation of teachers in “transition”

Faced with new demands from remote learning and grading, many teachers have the feeling of being part of “a generation in transition”, having to adapt to the situation at all costs.

Indeed, hybrid education (in its current generalised form) has largely been forced by the pandemic crisis, without adequate preparation and design for the long term. Presented as a necessary change to ensure the continuity of education, initially as a way to maintain connection with students, hybrid education now seems to lack a coherent digital teaching framework. This also includes the conditions required to deploy it correctly (organising online courses, writing scripts for learning modules, evaluating the hybridisation of teaching, etc.)

For many, this challenge is more pedagogical than technical. Many teachers are in fact already used to grading their students remotely (using digital tools to prevent and detect plagiarism, for example).

While more and more teachers are now convinced of the effectiveness of hybrid education and tout its benefits, it can sometimes be difficult for teachers to forge a new pedagogical connection with their students. Indeed, how can a teacher remotely assess whether a student understands the course content? Or whether a student is paying attention or has joined the session?

Applications like Zoom certainly allow teachers and students to see each other and ask their questions orally or by chat. But students rarely use these features.

 

New remote grading tools

As with any major change in pedagogy, success depends on mastering new tools. In this context, teachers have a choice between tools developed by the Department for Education to ensure the continuity of education and “private” tools.

Firstly, the forced transition toward hybrid education required a lot of adjustment and adaptation. This included ensuring that existing digital infrastructures could manage millions of connections. Harvard has provided a number of best practices for online pedagogy. For instance, it’s important to streamline the process for teachers and students, including by requiring only one username and password to access educational tools. In the vein of simplification and standardization, “it’s often better to use a few tools well than many tools ineffectively” (https://teachremotely.harvard.edu/best-practices). The regulated use of personal data is another area of importance.

However, this does not mean that “private” tools cannot have a place in this ecosystem. For example, synchronous technologies have helped overcome challenges faced by teachers who are unfamiliar with remote grading. They enable teachers to receive comments in real time and facilitate interactions with students regarding their work.

Customised evaluation grids, which state the objectives for each assignment, also facilitate teachers' and students' work. Coming in the form of a simple checklist, this tool allows students to quickly verify that their assignment contains everything the teacher is expecting. As for the teachers, it guides their evaluation of student performance with clear and explicit criteria.

Consequently, one challenge posed by hybrid education is to avoid an overabundance of support tools. The goal is not to add noise and busyness by making teachers' jobs even more complicated than they already are.

 

How can students continue to learn stress-free with hybrid education?

Hybrid education does not only present challenges for teachers. It can also be destabilising for students, who have lost some of the benchmarks that structured their day (even if this is less the case during a “normal” implementation of blended learning).

By placing the student at the heart of education, and by giving them a more active role, this new reality means that each person sets their own constraints. This also involves considering the student's unique situation rather than following a well-established programme.

 

Promoting their own rules

Taking classes remotely can seem like the perfect opportunity to spend the day on the couch, or to leave the TV on muted while you work. For others, the physical absence of a teacher and the lack of direct supervision can significantly complicate matters.

While there are no universal rules for this situation, hybrid education specialists overall recommend to follow the same pace as for a regular day of classes. By continuing to wake up at the same time and taking regular, short breaks, it's usually easier to maintain your focus and stay productive.

The key is to manage to impose discipline and a set of rules to follow. While the beginning can prove difficult, remote learning will gradually become second nature. Bit by bit, it becomes easier to avoid distractions (which are numerous), and you'll be able to focus on your goals to stay motivated.

In addition, remote education allows many students, for whom the traditional format might be ill-suited (due to personal or professional constraints, or more simply because of a different learning style), to choose their preferred pedagogical methods. Some prefer to work in the morning, while others prefer the end of the day. Some might spend extra time on a subject they are struggling with.

 

Contact with academic life

To stay motivated when learning from home, it is essential for students to maintain contact with their teachers and also their classmates. Tools like Zoom, Moodle, and Jitsi facilitate remote communication.

The ability to maintain a form of collaborative learning, as well as peer-to-peer discussions, helps students avoid procrastination or finding themselves in a surprise difficulty.

Thus, it would be unfortunate to remove, or shorten, the informal aspects of education. This includes moments where students can introduce themselves or discuss their personal lives. These discussions create a connection of trust that cultivates engagement in class and therefore improves the effectiveness of a hybrid course.

 

The importance of self-assessments in hybrid education

A student's motivation depends largely on their ability to see their progress, so remote grading plays a particularly important role in determining the success of hybrid education.

Providing self-assessment tools can offer a real boost to motivate students and facilitate remote learning. Take for example multiple-choice quizzes, which allow students to judge their performance in relation to their objectives and evaluate areas where they need to focus further. The teacher's involvement at this stage is also crucial. This is a good time to offer feedback, judge the student's progress, and reset expectations if necessary.

With Compilatio, students will also be able to analyse their work to ensure they have not plagiarised content found online. With just a few clicks, they will be able to check their written work before submission, cite their sources more accurately to support their point, and follow guidance to improve.

 

Hybrid education is thus a balanced mix between in-person and remote learning. While it normally seeks to take advantage of new information technologies and make learning more accessible, it has now become essential for ensuring the continuity of education. In order to offer more flexibility for teachers and students alike, we need to reimagine course content and teaching methods. Hybrid education requires teachers to use the right resources, including in terms of grading.

Whether you're a teacher or a student, try out Compilatio now to quickly determine whether a paper is authentic or not, or improve the quality of your work by automatically detecting your sources.


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