Home Education Is hybrid learning here to stay in high school?

Is hybrid learning here to stay in high school?

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Is hybrid learning here to stay in high school?

A new study says college students may prefer the flexibility of hybrid classes, but that doesn’t mean they want to leave campus.

For example, Holly Burns has long dreamed of enrolling at the University of California at Berkeley. She took several undergraduate courses at her local community college, and when she applied in 2018, she couldn’t believe she was accepted. Burns chose Berkeley because of the beauty and energy of his campus.

Adapting as a translation student was challenging. “It took me a while to find the group of people I wanted to be around and feel like I was connected to campus,” Burns says. “Especially as a student translator and someone who was older than most students.”

Just when she found her main base, the pandemic hit, forcing her to study online, and a new reality of campus life emerged. “I was absolutely devastated,” Burns said. “It was like this thing I’ve been working on for so many years was just ripped out.”

Distance learning could not be compared to the personal learning and sense of community that attracted her to Berkeley in the first place. “I’m a person personally,” Burns says. “For me, there’s something very strange about looking at your screen all day.”

Burns is one of millions of college students forced to adapt to distance learning at a key moment in her education. As thousands of students like her emerge from unprecedented turbulence, they and college leaders need to ask: what should the classroom look like now? And how should we support students and better support them?

Returning to campus was not what Burns expected. “I felt really detached from my teachers, and really wanted to come back in person. Then I come back in person, and then it amazes me – I’m very happy to come back, but I’m exhausted, “said Burns. “I can’t even believe how tired I am. As soon as I leave class, I run home, I can’t wait to get home. ”

She enjoys being able to attend in person, but on some days, knowing that she is not sacrificing her only ability to absorb course information, she greatly reduces the stress she feels. She also thinks the pandemic may have changed her. “Now my brain is more inclined to learn this way,” she says of distance learning. “But I don’t know for better or for worse.”

Burns’ appreciation for this new flexibility and her uncertainty that it has a real impact on her studies, echoes research and observations by experts across the country, showing that questions about the format in which colleges should teach have become widespread.

A natural experiment

Perry Samson, a professor of climate and space science at the University of Michigan, has spent years experimenting with distance education and student engagement – long before the pandemic. He has created a tool that allows him to receive more instant feedback from students. After the pandemic forced most to teach online, Samson used this tool to better understand his students ’attitudes toward personal and distance learning by publishing his results in Educause Review. Samson’s findings highlight students ’differing views on distance learning.

Samson gave his students what he thought were reasonable options: they could come to class, participate remotely during class, or asynchronously view recorded material and participate in class discussions while it occurs on the same day as the class. He found that students hold different views on distance learning, and universities would be wrong to assume that students participating remotely are less committed or less hardworking.

At the beginning of the fall semester in August, more than 90 percent of students attended in person, but by October the figure was about 20 percent. Similarly, while at the beginning of the semester most students participated in normal time, by November about a third participated asynchronously, using a discussion group where they could join if it was convenient.

Samson found that top-level students appeared in person half as many as first-semester students. But the format chosen by the students did not greatly affect their grades. In fact, those who participated asynchronously outperformed those who participated during the classes by about five percent.

These findings emphasize that being in the classroom does not guarantee higher grades and that students need to be viewed holistically, Samson says. “Students are busy people, they have a life,” Samson adds. “So it’s a recognition of the fact that it’s actually the people who come to our classes, and on some days they choose to come, and on other days – and those students who come to class aren’t necessarily the best students.”

Samson argues that the flexibility he has invested in his courses is actually better at meeting students ’needs, giving them space to develop time management skills.

“I like this class, I like being in class,” Samson says. “And, as I pointed out in this article, students may enjoy this class. But they really prefer to have options. ”

Some higher education staff take this notion even further, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic lesson is in fact further evidence of the importance of the campus community.

In a recent interview with Podcast FutureU, Joseph Aune, president of Northeastern University in Boston, was asked what the future of higher education would look like in light of COVID-19. Aun said that at the beginning of the pandemic, many believed that distance learning meant the end of the model of higher education in dormitories. The consensus was that online learning would eventually end physical campuses. Since then, however, “we’ve learned that’s not the case,” Aun said. “We saw that during COVID students wanted contact with people.”

It became clear when so many students decided to gather around closed campuses to maintain some resemblance to the community campus. “The human factor is important,” Aun said. “Human interaction is important.”

Samson of the University of Michigan agrees that time on campus is invaluable. “It’s an interaction, it’s a peer interaction. This socialization is extremely important – this is how you grow and age. University is not just lost knowledge, but maturation, learning interpersonal skills, ”says Samson. “The campus environment allows for incubation.”

Educating affiliation

Samson is very interested in what contributes to community engagement and how universities can help students feel they belong to higher education. He saw how increasing student feedback and flexibility leads to greater participation. Ever since he started giving his students more options, he has noticed changes in his class.

“During the semester, I could get two dozen questions, usually from white male students,” Samson says. But after he introduced a digital feedback channel for students to ask questions, he found that students were often confused during classes but did not feel comfortable asking questions out loud. “It was pretty sober,” Samson says. “After all these years of teaching, I ask an average of 500 questions per semester when I used to get a dozen or two.”

Burns, a UC Berkeley student, noticed the same thing in her online classes. “When I first got to Berkeley, I was amazed at how awful my communication skills were. Then we went online, and suddenly everyone was commenting, raising their little virtual hands and talking more. I think that’s how they feel comfortable. “

Burns still attends all the courses he can in person. But on days when that seems impossible, she appreciates that she can switch to Zoom and keep up.

It is ambiguous about hybrid lessons in the future. She says class discussions don’t go so well when some students are in class and others connect remotely via Zoom or another video platform. However, she hopes professors continue to record and distribute lectures on the rare occasions when she cannot be in the hall.

She came to college to discuss great ideas, share her views and join the community. Despite everything, she says the pandemic has not completely thwarted those goals. She found a home on campus and was able to feel the connection despite her physical and intellectual distance.

“This is my community,” Burns said. “These people know how to look me in the face. They know how to have a conversation and come up with ideas and things like that. You just don’t understand it with the Internet. ”

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