The COVID-19 pandemic forced most schools to switch to an online learning model, and students and teachers quickly had to adapt to a new learning and teaching environment. As schools have begun reopening, online learning isn’t going away. Many schools have found a hybrid classroom model—blending some in-class instruction with online components — offers the best of both worlds. If your school has switched to hybrid learning, here’s how to keep students engaged online and make the format work for all involved.
What is Hybrid Learning?
Hybrid learning merges online class activities with face-to-face instruction. Students might come into class a couple of days a week and work independently from home the rest of the week. Another form of hybrid learning might find some class members coming into the classroom for instruction, while other students learn from home.
Hybrid learning isn’t the same as blended learning. With a blended learning model, students are in a classroom full-time, and the teacher provides online activities to supplement classroom instruction. Hybrid learning fully replaces face-to-face instruction, at least some of the time. Hybrid learning gives students and teachers flexibility and allows them to work together synchronously, even when they can’t physically be in the same location.
Some schools have faced a challenge with hybrid learning because it might cause learners to disengage. Students may also struggle with a hybrid learning course’s technical requirements. Instructors can keep their classes interested and involved with tips for hybrid teaching.
Finding Student Success with Hybrid Learning
An online learning environment can cause some students to disconnect from the process. They may become distracted by their surroundings, or they might feel stressed out about learning at home. One secret to keeping students engaged online is understanding that in-person and online learning are different experiences. Hybrid teaching tips that work well when you’re face-to-face with students might fall flat online.
Keeping class sizes small or using breakout rooms and groups gives students a better chance to participate in an online learning classroom. Whether in school or online, students can work in the same small groups, giving their learning experience some structure.
Providing students with clear instructions and outlining course expectations also increases engagement. When students know they will be responsible for specific assignments or expected to participate in the online and face-to-face portions of the class, they are more likely to be active participants.
5 Hybrid Teaching Strategies to Start Using Today
If your school has embraced a hybrid learning structure, there are a few ways you can succeed in using it. Several hybrid learning tips allow your students to maximize their experience and help streamline your teaching process. Here’s what you can do to get the most out of a hybrid classroom.
1. Simplify the Process
With hybrid learning, less can be more. It’s easy to get enamored with the bells and whistles online technology can provide, such as different video backgrounds or features such as surveys and polls. But the more complicated you make your classroom’s online component, the more likely students will be to disconnect or struggle with the tech.
Instead, keep things simple. Use labeled folders for all course materials and walk students through using the online portal. If your class will meet in person before students use the online component, consider dedicating some part of your in-person class time to demonstrating how to use this technology. Invite them to ask you questions about the system when you’re face-to-face.
2. Create a Syllabus–and Stick to It
Develop weekly lesson plans and give them to students in advance.
Provide students and parents with a syllabus so everyone knows what the course involves, what you expect from students and when things will happen in person versus online. Develop weekly lesson plans and give them to students in advance, so they know what homework assignments they’ll have to hand in and what topics you’ll be discussing in class.
A syllabus shows students that you’re taking the course seriously and have expectations for them, even when they aren’t coming into a physical classroom.
3. Show Students How to Behave Online
In some cases, depending on your students’ age, an online classroom might be the first opportunity they’ve had to spend time online. They may have no idea how to act or what teachers expect of them. For that reason, you’ll want to give them a clear view of the expectations you have for them and provide a demonstration of how to behave online.
Here are a few of the things you might have to cover:
- When and how to mute a microphone
- How to raise a hand and participate in a discussion
- When and why it might be appropriate to turn off the camera
- How to talk to other students in a chat or forum and how to vet news sources
4. Regularly Check in With Students
Students feel more engaged in their learning and classes when they feel someone cares. If students think no one’s watching them, they’re more likely to skip class or not turn in their assignments. Schedule regular check-in appointments with your students every month or so, especially if you meet them online more than in the classroom. These meetings can give students a chance to ask questions, talk about their concerns or tell you more about themselves.
5. Understand What Works Online vs. in Person
Teachers must understand the difference between in-class instruction and online methods. For example, spirited discussions might work well in a face-to-face setting but can be tricky to pull off online due to delays and the chance of having people speak over each other. A lecture can work well in person but be very dull online. Adding a visual element to a lecture, such as a slideshow or a video presentation, can be more appropriate online.
Discovering teaching methods for all learning models might take some trial and error. But once you’ve found something that works, you can continue using it.
Adopt Technology in Your Classroom
EarthWalk has been providing technology to schools for more than 25 years. Our goal is to help teachers and educational leaders weave technology into the classroom setting. With no-hassle storage and charging for classroom devices of all kinds, we strive to make hybrid learning and the swift transitions in and out of the classroom as efficient as possible. To learn more about EarthWalk products, find a rep near you today.
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