How hybrid learning has boosted teaching skills
Teaching in the classroom will always enjoy preference, as learners (especially in primary school) still learn from their direct environment and benefit greatly from personal contact with their teachers and peers. But when teaching in class was suddenly no longer an option, teachers across the country were forced to rapidly learn and adopt the necessary skills and attitudes to teach remotely – whether by having live lessons through MS Teams or distributing weekly lesson booklets to learners.
So emerged the now-popular hybrid learning approach which many schools have decided to continue, even though lockdown regulations have allowed learners to return to school.
What is hybrid learning
Hybrid learning refers to a combination of remote (off-site) and in-person teaching – although, it is such a relatively new concept in education, that it often refers to other combined approaches as well. Within this context, normal teaching in the classroom continues while enabling learners to view the lesson remotely – whether by live stream or watching a recording later on. Naturally, the teacher would need to expand their technological skills to ensure the stream or recording runs smoothly, and get creative in ensuring learners can practice the necessary practical components or experiments at home.
How Cooper College approaches hybrid learning
At Cooper College, our lesson plans are coordinated so that learners in class and at home follow the same content. The lesson structure is optimised to focus on active teaching, so that remote learners (and those in class) benefit from the greatest possible amount of teacher-contact-with questions, activities, and homework-time done after the ‘active’ lesson. As our learners have access to Office 365 Education Suite, exercises or activities can be uploaded to SharePoint or sent via MS Teams, and pop-quizzes or self-assessments could even be created on MS Forms – and the results easily marked by the teacher.
Planning is key
While it’s easy to switch between planned lessons in the classroom, the nature of hybrid learning places a great need for self-discipline and preparedness on the remote learner. When a proper lesson plan is not in place, or the material required for the lesson is not ready in advance for the remote learner, the success of that particular lesson is compromised. Proper planning allows learners in class to get the time needed after each lesson to ask questions or work through extra activities, while remote learners benefit from efficient contact time with the teacher as well as the opportunity to plan ahead.
Suggestions to succeed in hybrid learning
At Cooper College, our teachers have gained invaluable experience during the sudden lockdown period. Through trial and error, they have identified some key secrets to succeed in hybrid learning.
Here are some of our teachers’ secrets to succeed in hybrid learning:
- Use what you know (at first)
Irrespective of how tech-savvy you are, you’ll be more efficient when using programmes or applications that you are already familiar with. Rather get creative and comfortable with your style in PowerPoint or Word before you try to master a new programme.
- Use what is already available
You can save a lot of money and time by using programmes that already exist. Rather than create learning platforms from scratch, use existing platforms and programmes that you and your learners can access. MS Teams is a popular platform for live lessons, while MS Forms works great for quizzes and self-assessments.
- Keep it simple (and brief)
As a golden rule: one design = one message. Whether you’re creating summaries, additional explanatory material, homework assignments, or videos to explain experiments, keep it short and sweet. Children these days learn best through short bursts of information. For example, rather than squeeze the summaries for an entire chapter into one presentation, break the chapter up into one section per presentation – and, within each presentation, one topic per slide. That way, the learner can easily learn each snippet of information while still getting a holistic understanding of the work.
- Focus on design, not technology
Be careful to get too caught up in the excitement of using technology. Although it’s a great idea to incorporate YouTube videos, hyperlinks, GIFs, Bitmojis, or other fun and interactive elements in your learning material, they should not overpower the core message of the material or distract learners from what is important. Rather ensure that your material has a neat, clean look that will promote learning, and add interactive elements only to complement the material.