The challenges of Hybrid learning and teaching and how to make this new way of learning a success
Hybrid learning environments are more widely used these days, especially in the wake of the global pandemic. This does not just affect the lives of student events and social life, but also their academics and the educational system as a whole. Schools and universities have had to adapt rapidly to not teaching their students in person.
Now that things are changing once more with new social distancing guidelines, we have to adapt to the challenge of teaching students simultaneously in person and online. Often with these abrupt changes, the quality of learning and teaching can decrease and so new approaches must be sought out and implemented rapidly.
Instructors who usually teach with a fully populated classroom need to manage the students’ work and their classroom technology completely differently. Likewise, students have to learn effectively via hybrid instruction, even if this is not always ideal for the course content or what they are used to.
These challenges that both instructors and students face are why more and more universities and schools turn to Hybrid models. After interviewing one of the Geneva Business School instructors, Roberta Giannini, we will tackle the most prominent issues. Read on for tips that both instructors and students can use.
What is Hybrid learning? Hybrid learning or teaching is finding the right mix (anewspring.com, Driesen, 2016) of education and learning, whether online or offline. Here the goal is to give the best possible opportunity for students to learn the information most effectively.
An instructor on the Barcelona campus, Roberta Giannini calls Hybrid learning ‘the third leg of education. Before we had in-person education for the classroom, then we transitioned to the theory of mind. Then COVID-19 brings us this opportunity to try to match the hybrid experimentation, and it was really experimentation.’ Teachers and instructors have to find a way to combine both face-to-face and online.
Here are a few tips on how to improve the learning process:
Tip 1: Keep the cameras on
Students that are joining classes online are always tempted to turn off their cameras and use their time they should be used to paying attention. This is not just to help students focus but also a huge help for instructors and professors to read and react to body language. Making sure that students are effectively online learning is an important first step. We want to engage students well and when we can see them it makes it easier to identify.
Tip 2: Manage your time in the classroom wisely
Having a class in front of you can often give instructors a false sense of distributing their attention and time. They are more likely drawn to focus on the students in front of them instead of involving the online students.
As Giannini stated, there are difficulties in especially this aspect: ‘You can imagine that a professor is only a single person having to pay attention to the students in class. Having to pay attention to their body language, if they’re paying attention or not, if they are distracted, if they are in doubt, or if they have any questions or want to contribute to the discussion. You have to do the same thing with the online students that are behind you on a screen.’
To counteract this, Giannini often uses a technique where she physically turns to the online students and focuses time, especially with the online student. Other instructors even do announcements and create small lesson planning at the beginning of the course. Stating from whom he/she wants to hear today in class and addressing both online and offline students.
Tip 3: Use technology to be more inclusive!
Making sure that the technology is working is an obvious piece of advice but this can often be a problem. Sometimes we face problems such as the computer not connecting, the mic does not work correctly or the link to the virtual classroom does not work. This not only steals time but is incredibly frustrating. Remote learning needs an infrastructure to work on. That is why you need to check the tools available. Ricardo Jovani on the Madrid campus was recently voted one of our most innovative faculty by the students for his use of earpods in class to hear the hybrid students’ discussion while in class with the on campus students more effectively. Read more about that here.
One of the perks of Geneva Business School facilities is that the classrooms are well equipped with virtual whiteboards, touch screens, microphones, and other tools. It assists students and instructors to work more efficiently. Here teachers can easily share their screens and see the online classroom at the same time.
There are several other tools and add-ons available that help getting students to be more active. These range from videos to interactive Mindmaps like Jamboards to quizzes and polls. Google Meet and Zoom often have a small form like these included but a highly recommended website that makes quizzes and polls fun is Mentimeter. The free platform helps keep students engaged, they are extremely easy to use and it includes both online and offline students.
Technology is not always the answer to all problems. Instructors have to actively learn how to use new tools so that the class is fluid and runs smoothly. Even seasoned teachers have to practice until using new tools becomes automatic. Adapting to new technologies is essential for both old and new instructors alike.
â€œOne thing that I learned, and it was, of course, thanks to Geneva Business School, because they trained us very well, at the beginning of the last semester. They got all the professors together to train us on using Google. So we were trained on using Google tools and the add-ons to Chrome. We could improve the interaction, and make the class more interesting for the students and somehow make them work together. It didn’t matter if they were online, or if they were present, actually.â€ said Giannini.
Tip 5: Feedback is the only way we learn
Give students the opportunity to voice themselves. Everyone is human and we can often fall back into old patterns. Taking this as a good learning experience is crucial to develop the methods. By giving the students a chance to express even constructive criticism will help to improve the learning process.
It’s about finding the right mix of teaching and learning. Only then can we really learn and develop with this complex teaching system.
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