A few years ago, my husband tried to persuade the school where my daughter was studying to embrace the possibility of not taking her notebooks during that school year and allowing her to replace them with her Ipad. This idea came to life as I saw her skills using portable devices and how it helped her simplify and organize her learning process. However, the school denied this.
Honestly, we were sure that this was going to be the answer, as the education was managed traditionally with face-to-face classrooms, whiteboards, notebooks, books, etc. Nevertheless, due to the covid-19 pandemic, education experienced a radical digital transformation changing the way in which classes were taught.
Nonetheless, during 2021 we will experience the progressive return to in-person education, where a new challenge arrives: hybrid education. But, how does hybrid education work? It is the combination of in-person learning with online environments using various digital resources for class management with students both online and in classrooms.
The challenge is rough but not impossible. I am sure that this can be achieved and will depend on the resource investment made by the institution and I am not just speaking about high tech devices but also the time allocated to process planning and training the community (teachers, students and parents). We must remember that every change causes a resistance in us as human beings. However, with the appropriate action plan and socialization, this will be achieved with real and effective results generating confidence in this new learning model.
There are 4 key elements to achieve a successful understanding of the hybrid system, which are:
- Tech equipment
It is a ¨must¨ to have access to a good internet speed and withband. Also, counting with equipment like: 180° or 360° videocameras, bluetooth microphones, digital whiteboards and laptops.
- Digital platforms
The school must have a platform that allows an accurate management of your virtual classroom, register all of your students’ progress and easen the workload of your teachers. As a complement, it is pivotal to have a video conference platform like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate. These have all the necessary features to achieve an optimum control of your online session.
- Content Creation
By using apps, previous collection of different kinds of content and didactic material, you will be able to create an interactive environment for students and capture their attention whether they are in the classroom or at home.
- Constant training sessions
Preparing your teachers for mastery of computer learning resources and implementing a more structured planning are key to confront technical issues. For this reason, it is recommended that each classroom have a teacher and an assistant.
The mistakes that must be avoided during the implementation of hybrid classes are:
- Neglect the connectivity strength of the institution
The school must ensure the class’ broadcast is optimal. It would be a serious mistake to only focus on face-to-face students and sacrifice the learning quality of online students.
Also, we can apply the following formula that allows us to know if the connection is adequate:
Total students x 40% x 0.02= (compared to bandwidth)
- 40%: this will vary since it is defined by the percentage of allowed capacity, that is currently 30%, and an additional percentage taking into account the number of teachers.
- 0.02 is the 200 Kbps of average video transmission speed per student in normal to low quality.
2. Stop using the LMS platform
The learning center should not be focused on the classroom but on the chosen LMS platform, since the entire academic and pedagogical process will be recorded on it.
3. Do not do internal audits to measure the schools’ performance.
Constant monitoring will allow the institution to be aware of how digitally advanced is compared to the market and to position themselves as a referent in this new educational approach. It will allow the school to constantly measure the process, analyze if its teaching staff requires reinforcements in training, if students feel comfortable and can clearly understand their classes, if parents have confidence in the model, if connectivity is adequate, if the equipment purchased should be improved, etc., in order to make immediate corrections.
During the pandemic we have learned to adapt to change abruptly and education has been no exception. This is why it is important to be prepared for any change, to not be left behind and go hand in hand with this new era of digital transformation.