Facilitating A Hybrid Setting – eLearning Business
Combine online skills with personal experience
The 2020/2021 school year is coming to an end for almost all schools, from K-12 to colleges and universities, and what a year it was! Educators around the world have learned the design, technology, and moderation of online courses and are ready to take some time off.
It’s a well-deserved break.
But after this final year of the pandemic, teachers and administrators are trying to figure out what’s next. It is evident that many of the tools and skills that were included in the curriculum were important during the crisis. While the learning experiences were not ideal for many students in this crisis-ridden move to the online environment, online learning made it possible to continue the academic year and avoid a complete shutdown.
Now, as we look to the future, educators find themselves with a range of new tools in their teaching toolkit – and some time to ponder their pros and cons. In addition, institutions have seen some of the more overt benefits of the online learning space, such as: These include reducing travel and space requirements, distributing asynchronous content, and improving student progress tracking.
Facilitation of a hybrid environment
These skills, tools, and the new perspective educators and students had on the online learning potential all seem to point us to an even more hybridized educational space. With the impact on your classroom environment in mind, I offer the following reflections on how we can enable this hybrid environment:
1. Engagement in the classroom
The personal classroom is the only environment that was most missing from our online experience. This seems like an obvious statement but it needs to be mentioned as this is also what we took for granted prior to last year. When this area was removed, new types of engagement had to be explored, including interactive presentation applications, videos, and video conferencing tools. Returning to personal space does not have to mean immediately setting up these practices. Instead, it could reveal an entirely new engagement experience for students and teachers alike, an experience where students become actively and in sync with the teacher. Live polls, classroom chat rooms, online classroom research, and interactive curriculum content are all possible ways online knowledge can improve personal engagement.
2. Asynchronous learning
The asynchronous learning environment (whether within a learning management system or not) was key to last year. It is a space of guided self-learning that allows students to move at their own pace with a more personalized experience. While it is likely true that some learning experiences relied too heavily on this type of experience, it is no doubt also true that asynchronous learning tools have been a valuable resource for educators. Returning to the personal person should involve rethinking asynchronous learning resources to enhance the classroom experience. Before the pandemic, the flipped classroom model was already viewed by many in the online learning arena as an optimizer of personal time. Now it may be possible to think of asynchronous learning as an all-in-one tool that provides students with pre- and post-face-to-face learning experiences. This will, of course, vary based on educational level and subject of study, but the potential of the asynchronous format should remain a valuable resource for any curriculum.
3. Social-emotional awareness
The stress of a pandemic year challenged students and teachers alike. There are dozen of articles devoted to the effects of living and learning in quarantine on the mental health and emotional distress that students in disadvantaged conditions have unevenly distributed. Instead, I’d like to highlight this area because we’ve seen the effects of emotional health on learning (and teaching!). It will be important for educators and administrators to continue to consider their students’ social and emotional environments for their educational progression. Student support among one another and with their community is vital to their academic performance. And the technological tools and skills acquired over the last year can reveal innovative ways to keep students connected with people and stories that will help enhance their learning experience.
These are just a few key areas where there is tremendous potential to combine the online teaching skills acquired in the past year with the personal excellence that educators have previously dealt with. At a time when hybridized experiences are considered the norm, think about how you will integrate the lessons learned to create the educational experiences of the future.