Hybrid classrooms, an increasingly common approach to learning in higher education and other school systems, combine traditional class activities with online learning features. Hybrid classes are popular because of their inherent adaptability, allowing for a wide variety in teaching methods and program concentration. When looking for benchmarks and best practices, several strategies emerge as the most effective for using hybrid options. These include:
A flipped classroom is one of the more drastic hybrid class approaches, but in the right programs it can also be one of the most effective. When a class is flipped, most of the events that used to happen in the class occur online, and class time is saved for projects that students normally work on outside of class. While this sounds confusing at first glance, it is designed to focus interaction time for maximum efficiency and is practiced by top schools around the world, including Stanford.
Lectures, reviews, and text analysis tend to be the least productive periods of a class, with students acquiring information but doing little else. A flipped classroom moves this stage online and assigns lectures, reviews, etc. for homework. Class time is then used for answering questions, student discussion, problem solving, and troubleshooting – a much more effective use of student time. Additionally, once lectures and similar data are online, they are relatively easy to maintain and update if required.
Hybrid classrooms have the potential to offer every student a unique learning experience that targets their weak areas and ensure comprehension. Many universities are already working on Big Data systems that can analyze student exams and suggest particular courses of study to shore up areas where the student is struggling. Professors can take the process a step further and assign particular online assignments or projects based on student needs instead of a blanket curriculum requirement. Online homework portals make this process very simple.
This customized approach requires a different view of education than the heavily standardized version that teachers have been working with for years, but one of the ways that online education is disrupting traditional models is through such invaluable flexibility.
Interaction with the Outside World
Nothing benefits students like experience in real-world situations and on-the-job training. Previously students needed to head out to internships for such practice, but online interaction in a hybrid classroom can also bring the outside world several steps closer. Using web conferencing and web cameras, professors can hold live interviews with company leaders, talk to leading experts in the field, interact with other classes across the world, and even take guided tours of facilities and offices.
Hardware and Software Synchronicity
A key best practice for hybrid classrooms is a perfect matching of hardware and software for all users. With so many online platforms available these days, this can be a true challenge. However, schools should do their best – through distribution, strict guidelines, and similar practices – to ensure that all students are using the same devices and the same software to interact. This avoids a myriad of problems, from formatting difficulties to outright device familiar. Administrators must make sure everyone is on the same page.