The benefits of hybrid learning are numerous, from providing greater access to education, through to catering for different learning styles simultaneously, and helping to alleviate some of the problems associated with student absenteeism. It is only through fully understanding these various benefits that you can start to understand why hybrid learning is emerging as such an important concept.
Read on to find out more about hybrid learning and how it can help teachers and students alike.
Modern education technology has allowed for the creation of hybrid learning environments, where educators are able to teach in-person and remote learners simultaneously, and it can be important to try to grasp the benefits of hybrid learning. After all, it is a model that students increasingly expect to be able to benefit from. It is also an approach that is growing in popularity and likely to become more in-demand in the months and years ahead.
In this article, we take a closer look at the hybrid learning model and explore four of the specific benefits.
One of the main benefits of hybrid learning is the improved level of flexibility it offers and this kind of flexibility is becoming extremely important within the education sector. Generally speaking, learners want as many options as possible and the ability to move from in-person to remote learning can be invaluable. Failure to offer flexibility can result in students choosing to study a different course, or choosing to study at a different academic institution entirely.
The need for flexibility within education was made even more obvious by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which caused many schools, colleges and universities to have to close at short notice, or operate with severely reduced class sizes. However, even taking COVID-19 out of the equation entirely, flexibility can be extremely beneficial.
Students want the freedom to decide how they learn on a lesson-by-lesson basis. There may be instances where they feel too tired to attend a class, but they still want to participate from home. At the same time, hybrid learning can offer those who primarily like to learn remotely with the option to participate in some of the social aspects of learning, which almost 60 percent of students say contributes to them becoming more independent and confident.
Increased Access to Learning
For many of those working in the education sector, the most exciting aspect of hybrid learning is its potential to open up access to learning. On a basic level, when in-person teaching is the only option available, all students need to be within traveling distance of the classroom throughout the full duration of their course. With hybrid learning, this is not necessarily the case, which can mean a greater number of people feel able to participate.
For schools, this increased access to learning also means they can attract students from a wider range of locations. The option for remote education within hybrid learning means academic institutions no longer need to stick to sourcing students from nearby and it even means the potential to open up courses to international students, without them having to relocate. Crucially, this can be achieved without putting off those who would prefer to be in a classroom.
Moreover, hybrid learning encourages the adoption of EdTech, much of which is excellent for accessibility. To offer an example, when remote learning is a possibility, students may be able to use technology like text-to-speech, or some of the accessibility settings within core software. This can help to expand access to education for the differently-abled.
Better Use of Teaching Resources
Another major advantage of hybrid learning is its ability to improve how teaching resources are used and this can be seen in a number of different ways. For one, the mix of physical classroom learning and remote learning can allow for smaller classrooms to cater for more students, while saving the very largest rooms for lessons that really need them.
Usually, if an academic institution wants to provide both in-person and remote learning opportunities, they will need to put on two separate classes or even two distinct courses. Yet, one of the key benefits of hybrid learning is the ability to blend the demand for both learning styles, meaning a single course can cater to both of these preferences.
This may, in turn, also mean schools require fewer teachers, or that existing staff are less likely to be overworked. Additionally, the creation of learning materials for a course can be made more streamlined, because teachers will no longer be required to create one set of learning materials for each learning style. Furthermore, hybrid learning can encourage some of the more hesitant teachers to fully embrace digital whiteboarding and other EdTech.
Reduced Student Absenteeism
Lastly, one of the most overlooked benefits of hybrid learning is the potential to reduce cases of absence on a course. This can occur because while people may feel too physically unwell to attend a classroom, they may still feel well enough to engage with the class through remote learning, meaning they no longer need to miss out entirely.
On top of this, many hybrid lessons are recorded and then uploaded online, allowing them to be downloaded or streamed at a later date. This means that, even in situations where students do need to miss classes through illness, bereavement, or scheduling conflicts, they will have the opportunity to easily catch up at a later date. This can be especially beneficial when dealing with long-term student absences, such as those caused by chronic health conditions.
Reducing absenteeism is a key challenge for educators. A 2016 study published in Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice found that students’ academic performance was adversely affected by absenteeism. Worse still, the problem creates a cycle that is difficult to break, with lower academic achievement then being a predictor for future absenteeism.
Hybrid learning is helping to change the way we think of education and is removing many of the barriers that have traditionally existed. Not only can it provide students with a greater degree of flexibility and freedom to choose how to learn, but it can also expand access to education too. Meanwhile, its ability to reduce absenteeism and limit the negative impact of any absences that do occur can help to make sure more students get the absolute most out of their studies.