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Is hybrid learning a short-term answer to a long-term question?

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Since schools were forced to find a new approach to teaching students throughout school closures, the education landscape has turned to hybrid learning. Educators have been balancing teaching a small group of students in-class while simultaneously providing remote lessons to the majority of learners at home.

While they’ve been reactive and resourceful in adapting to manage synchronous and asynchronous learning, embracing the opportunities of combining traditional teaching with the digitisation of education, the hybrid learning model of simultaneous remote and classroom teaching is not sustainable as a more permanent solution.

Instead, educators need a system which transfers the new skills and edtech they’ve developed during hybrid learning, into a more supportive setting without the extra strains and pressures which ultimately hamper their lesson delivery and wellbeing.

So what approach should educators be working towards in the long-term, and how can they still meet these new demands without losing the benefits of embedded edtech?

Tech-first teaching

Educators have experienced first-hand the value edtech brings to facilitating teaching, powering their own productivity and alleviating increased workloads. But edtech is designed to go beyond merely being an enabler, as it’s primarily served in hybrid learning. Elevating its role opens up the myriad opportunities to deepen and intensify the quality of teaching and learning.

The technological aspect of hybrid has encouraged schools to become more tech-focused, preparing them for the mindset of using edtech more prominently in the day-to-day. However, treating edtech less pragmatically by leading with a digital-first strategy allows new pedagogical practices to prosper through a more seamless and intuitive integration of tech and teaching.

Hybrid has proven how edtech underpins the mechanics of education, but educators have lacked the time to fully refine their tech use alongside the demands of remote learning. So in the long-term, schools will need to reflect on the most valuable tools to take forward and formulate a refreshed tech roadmap for achieving their wider goals and objectives.

A tech-first approach also combats issues of online security and safeguarding by implementing the level of robust network infrastructure and protection simply not possible for remote staff and students. This way, collaboration, communication and motivation can flourish, guided by edtech, instead of being overshadowed by issues with the digital space, equipment or connectivity.

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Digital-first teaching moves education further into modern practices, with benefits for staff and students, and away from tired, inefficient processes such as a reliance on the teacher at the front of the class. If properly implemented, staff will consequently be able to appreciate it more as a welcome tool rather than associating it with additional work or complication.

The classroom as the epicentre

Surveys such as Teacher Tapp’s shows educators have lacked confidence during remote teaching and their faith lies instead in the classroom. Guidelines and restrictions may have changed, but the classroom remains the nucleus of learning — hybrid learning is not a substitute for this setting in which staff can focus on and work with students in person.

The classroom environment allows for more creativity in learning and replaces the challenges of remote teaching or juggling it alongside in-person education. Teachers have had to spend more time being creative in overcoming the logistical obstacles of remote teaching, rather than being creative with the learning and content. It’s clinical, exhausting work for teachers and pupils, significantly less productive or beneficial for achieving learning goals.

The in-person environment, however, allows for direct contact and greater interactivity, broken over distance and the remote barrier. The classroom strengthens the personal connection between staff and student, reaffirming the invaluable socialisation of sharing ideas and working together with peers which also nurtures their wellbeing.

The classroom also provides a structure which can be reconfigured to suit different learning profiles or lesson styles. Teachers can rely on front-of-class tech like the ActivPanel as a central focal point for capturing students’ attention, or “daisy chain” multiple screens around the room to provide several points of stimulation. The possibilities are much greater and more diverse when teaching isn’t limited by a camera and microphone.

In conclusion

Hybrid learning isn’t the long-term answer, but a step towards the solution. Schools should focus on a more future-proof way of teaching that’s tech-first but centred upon face-to-face engagement. This is the best way for tech and teaching to seamlessly combine without unnecessary constraints or burdens.

Find out more on how to manage the transition through hybrid learning in our BettFest talk on ‘EdTech Strategies for a Fairer World’, and discover how the best classroom edtech can boost your engagement and attainment by requesting a free ActivPanel demo.

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