Who benefits from Hybrid Learning?
ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. The union firmly believes that the daily, in-person model of instruction and support best meets the educational, developmental and social needs of students, provides the best experience for support, and is the most equitable learning model for all students. ETFO’s expectation is that elementary virtual learning in any capacity, including through hybrid models of instruction, will end once the pandemic ends.
There has been an ongoing discussion about the possibility of sustaining online learning after the pandemic ends. In addition, there is a possibility that teachers may be online in the fall of 2021. I recently wrote a blog about the pros and cons to online learning which you can access HERE.
I’m currently in my 7th month of teaching using the hybrid online learning model – i.e. teaching students synchronously both in class and online. I’ve been successful in supporting my students’ learning through much cognitive and physical juggling. With my own money, I had to purchase several items to supplement my online learning instruction. I also had to adapt my in-class pedagogy to fit the online students’ needs. In supporting students learning from home, I’ve been making deliveries of classwork materials to the students’ houses!
As I’ve written in another blog, online learning has a particular ecology to it as it differs in space and time to in class learning. I find that time passes more slowly online as each minute counts. In class, students and teachers spend a great deal of time interacting socially with each other within the process of learning. Online, social interactions are limited, leaving behind much of the human part of learning.
Experience with Online Instruction
To put my comments into context, I’ve done a great deal of learning online via many additional teacher qualifications. I have even written an eLearning online course. As an adult, asynchronous learning works best for me as I can choose the time and place to learn. I also do not have to sit for a long period of time and can take breaks as needed.
With synchronous learning, students must sit in front of a computer for hours at a time … which is particularly difficult for those who like to move while they learn.
Cameras On or Off?
Some teachers INSIST that students keep their cameras on so the teacher can see the student sitting in front of their computer. I allow my students to decide whether they will have their cameras on or off. Just because a student is sitting in front of their computer does not ensure that they are attending to the teacher. From a professional point of view, I prefer the cameras off as I do not want to invade my students’ privacy AND the meeting streams better without the cameras on!
Who benefits from the hybrid model of online learning?
Based on my experience, I find that the hybrid model does not benefit either my online students or my in class students. My online students only experience half of what is happening in our classroom as they miss out on the hands-on activities – this is particularly important in learning math concepts with physical math manipulatives. The online students also miss the social aspect of being in school with no chance to socialize with their peers during collaborative class work and lunch and recess.
In class students also miss out in a hybrid environment as the teacher must adapt lessons to meet the needs of online students. This means less hands-on activities and less inquiries that need a collaborative setting.
There are also several equity issues that include access to technology and the reliability of internet services. Further, teachers wonder what constitutes online attendance in class and who is completing the class work. These are issues that could be considered in separate blogs so I will stop the discussion here.
Teachers certainly do not benefit from the hybrid model as it is very taxing on their executive function – they must juggle the competing agendas of online student needs, in class student needs, lesson planning, answering phones, taking attendance, lesson materials, and teaching curriculum. Ultimately, it is much harder to assess students’ understanding of curriculum through a computer screen. This multitasking leads to teacher burnout.
The hybrid model is not an effective format to meet the learning needs of students or the instructional needs of teachers.
So, who benefits from teaching via the hybrid model? Boards of education and ministries of education benefit because it is cheaper to run programs through the hybrid model. It is a cheaper version of educating students.
It comes down to $$$$.
Think about this.
Deb Weston, PhD