Hybrid education: The new upgraded way of learning
After the pandemic hit, we realized that we needed to quickly change how we were operating to continue servicing our students. We have been in the Online Class modality for more than a decade now, but this was different; students taking On-Campus classes were transitioned into an online learning environment. The challenge was clear.
After some COVID restrictions were lifted, we realized that students enjoyed the online modality, and of course, feeling safe. Thus, we decided to continue offering both online and on-campus students the hybrid experience.
Step by step
Our portals and platforms were already set up to offer online instruction; the innovative aspect came from interacting with on-campus students and those online in real-time. We noticed that both instructors and students experienced a connected and collaborative environment. International students who flew back home still had the opportunity to connect and interact with instructors and classmates in the U.S. They manifested to be “amazed” by this new possibility.
The success was so overwhelming that we have now adopted this model in about 25% of our current programs; we feel it has contributed to collaboration and student engagement. In addition, because of the outstanding results, we have seen several other institutions that have adopted this model; we see this now even in Ivy League schools transitioning from a traditional to a more technological-driven model.
Talking about advantages
The hybrid learning model allows students to have more flexibility. It allows students to connect remotely on some days and attend physically on others. It also enhances the student experience as we can have students from different States or even different Counties attend our local class in real-time. “I had this experience during the pandemic lock-down where I had students connecting to my class from Russia, Romania, and South Africa, and all were able to connect and interact with the class in real-time.”, explained Natali Alvarez, Faculty Director.
“We have been running online classes since the university’s inception. This allowed us to experience firsthand some of the challenges and benefits of online learning. With this knowledge, we felt we had a major advantage as we were able to quickly transition into hybrid learning knowing that students would benefit from the flexibility of this learning modality.”
The best practices
Some hybrid learning best practices include relationship building, mainly when students work on group assignments. Knowing they have a team to rely upon is of great value to students. We promote active learning, engagement, and collaboration in the classroom by using technology via our zoom video conferences. We have adopted various polling strategies to engage students in class discussions and Kahoot games to make the class more interactive.
At AU, we are in a continuous search of improvement due to the commitment of excellence we have to our students. We are always looking for ways to enhance our student experience and constantly poll/survey students to understand our impact and areas of opportunity for improvement.