While we continue to sail through unprecedented times in the new academic year 2021-22, the educators continue to unlearn and relearn innovative ways to deliver learning to its students. Never before have we witnessed education sector come up with innovative ways to keep the schools open even though the doors are closed.

Whether it is the digital learning for the online classes, or executing school activities or conducting assessments online or reopening in the Hybrid Model- Year 2020 has witnessed it all!! While examining the best avenues for the new academic year 2021, hybrid learning model offers the education institutions a systematic approach to learning that is based on in person, flipped and remote learning model of digital engagement.

When the government laid down the rules for reopening last year, parents hesitated to send their children to schools. Therefore, schools were compelled to run in the Hybrid Model. Hybrid learning is combining the online and face to face learning options in a structured and purposeful way. It can happen in multiple ways depending on the number of students opting for the physical classes.

Developing a hybrid model is synonymous with building the curriculum and requires continuous effort on it. While some students are learning from home and some are in person, the hybrid learning model intentionally creates a student centric approach that are engaging and enriching.

With the second academic year in the online mode, to make schools and universities more viable implementing bimodal approaches will not only cater to learning but will encourage students to take control of their learning and pace it to their requirement making learners responsible as well as independent.

As educators we are the best to understand our group of learners and make it student centric by creating the right group to cater as well as give personalised learning. Hybrid model has given teachers and learners copious opportunities to learn and utilize the digital platform to experiment, to grow and be creative. Teachers can plan their lessons differently using the Learning Management system which are time saving and have a repository of teaching aids and resources which are so handy.

With flexibility in how to conduct a class, students are self driven and tend to be more focussed during the online interactions. Teachers have found innovative methods of conducting assessments which give students instant feedback.

They can implement new strategies, reflect and contribute to the collective experience of hybrid learning and the science of teaching. Some of the tried and tested strategies at our schools that have worked beneficially to the educators and learners alike are-

  1. Asynchronous Distance Learning-As the students opt to learn remotely, the self driven and disciplined learners works on his own on the work assigned by the teacher. During the one on one interaction, the students is able to get the feedback from the teacher. This way the gap in the knowledge can be bridged. And variety of work can be planned as home assignment which the students can complete at their own pace.
  2. Flipped Learning- With this learning model, teachers can ensure good time management, give students enriching self learning experience, time driven projects or assignments and utilise the interaction time to complete the activities by discussing and applying the concepts. This is extremely useful strategy as the students come prepared for the class, makes content infinitely rich, students shape the classroom sessions by involving more in the topic.
  3. SAMR- We crawl before we walk and we learn the sight words before reading sentences. The SAMR Model lays the four tiers of online learning- Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. Each level helps teachers to integrate, create tools and strategies for effective learning. This ensure the hybrid learning is structured and effective. The gradual inclusion of technology into an assignment liberates the educator to pilot test the new tools and experiment it with an assignment. Technology does help teachers take learners to worlds beyond their imagination and make learning more actionable.

Hybrid learning environment is a mix of all the models. Successes of these strategies are helpful to build learning models that are personalised, relevant and engaging.

The sense of community also plays an essential role in a hybrid learning environment and collaboration helps in meaningful learning and create new learning experiences. Students need their instructors as well as their peers to learn. It is essential that schools create protocol and processes to check on students, evaluating their needs, and identifying how teachers can help. It is paramount to create engagement that emphasize student to student interaction, working together and learn with each other and succeed in the hybrid environment.

Life skills activities that promote socio emotional development can be included in meaningful ways where students get a chance to choose and express themselves while involving in the class group. The pandemic year 2020 gave ample opportunities to focus on mental health activities and students could reflect on feelings of gratitude, compassion and empathise with the less privileged. This is one way to ensure that we build the skills that will help navigate the students through the pandemic and beyond.

Overall, hybrid learning seems to be the future of education as it is helping to change the way we think of education that have traditionally existed. While it resolves issues related to nonattendance and caters to various learning styles, it has expanded access to education too. With digital integration in the ongoing classes, hybrid learning will be a continuum as it will help bridge the learning gap created when the students are absent. Access to education will be ensure there is no difference or change of work done in the online or the physical mode.  Overall Hybrid learning lets us tap the best strategies that will work for learning in all different way and will cater to greatest number of students.