At this year’s Pearson English Spring Days, a number of panelists came to share their insights and expertise on hybrid learning and how to get the most out of hybrid classrooms.
One of them was guest speaker Kasia Janitz-de-la-Rue. She offered their insights into how teachers and students interact with each other around the world with advanced hybrid learning. She also gave advice on how we can increase engagement and motivation by using different approaches and tools.
If you’re looking for technology-related advice for the coming academic year, read on to learn more about Kasia’s tips and tricks for hybrid teaching.
What is hybrid teaching?
Many of us are now familiar with online learning. During much of the lockdown, many schools closed, which meant moving to an online classroom via computer or mobile device. Some of us have had experiences too Blended learning courses. These mix face-to-face teaching with online learning separately.
However, hybrid learning is another method that has gained momentum over the course of the pandemic and is likely to be with us for some time to come. In this case, groups of face-to-face and online learners are mixed in the classes. Kasia explains that “hybrid learning can take different forms depending on the country, school or even class”.
- Students can take turns coming to class – In this case, the lessons can be divided into two groups: Group 1 will give face-to-face lessons in week 1, while group 2 will study online from home, then the groups will swap for week 2, etc.
- Key worker students go to school – During the lockdown, many key workers (health and social workers, teachers, etc.) had to go to their workplaces. As a result, their children went to schools for face-to-face lessons while their classmates stayed at home and studied online.
- Self-isolating students stay at home – If a student has contracted COVID-19 or has had contact with someone who has it, they must stay at home. In this case, they study online while the rest of the class learns face to face.
The challenges of hybrid teaching
Hybrid learning is one way of dealing with the difficulties encountered in education over the past year. However, as Kasia points out, it can be especially difficult for teachers to have a situation where students are in two different places.
It outlines a number of different problems we may face and how we can overcome them:
Make sure that both groups have a similar learning experience
It is important to ensure that both groups of students have a positive learning experience. One approach to help with this is to record the classroom teaching and send it to distant learners.
Another solution is to have both study groups use their devices so that they are connected on the same platform. That way, they have a similar experience in class or at a distance.
Pay similar attention to both groups
Finding a balance between the attention we pay to both groups of learners can be challenging. It can be easy to get distracted in class by learners who need extra attention. Likewise, we may spend more time replying to chat boxes on online platforms than helping those present.
To help, it is important that we think about our lessons, where our attention is going, and try to pinpoint specific times when we can focus on both groups together and individually.
Make sure both groups interact
A hybrid classroom can isolate some students from the learning environment. As we’ve seen last year, this can affect not only their learning experience but also their mental health.
Interacting with others is the key to positivity and motivation. One way to help with this is for both groups to use their devices and connect through the online platforms. This allows students in the class to interact and chat with remote learners.
Have a plan B when technology fails
A lot can go wrong with the technology: the Internet connection breaks, some students cannot connect or the microphone breaks, among other things. When these things happen, having a Plan B up your sleeve is a good idea.
For example, you can have a ready-made PowerPoint presentation, a presentation with voice recording or a video that explains the topic. This is a great solution if something goes wrong at the last minute.
Keep things simple
Students may not be familiar with all platforms, applications, and technologies. Hence, keep things simple by just picking out a few apps and platforms.
This will familiarize students with the technology, making it easier and faster each time you use it. It also prevents them from getting lost in class. Kasia emphasizes that in hybrid learning, less is more!
How to Use Zoom in Classes
Zoom is a popular platform that Teachers have used it for hybrid and online classes. It’s in the now Pearson English Portal This is how you can schedule courses from your dashboard.
Kasia explains that Zoom is a great choice for hybrid classrooms because it has many features that are useful for teaching. These include:
Split the screen
With Zoom you can share your screen with other participants in the video. This means that you:
- View presentation slides to showcase new languages or topics
- View pictures to explain vocabulary
- Play a video on a video channel
- Show texts for students to complete comprehension tasks
- Shows a student’s written work and elicits corrections
A whiteboard function
The whiteboard function behaves like the blackboard in your classroom, but with additional digital advantages. You can:
- Write new vocabulary
- Highlight the text
- Change text color
- Gather ideas and information
- Invite students to write ideas on the board
A chat box
The chat box is a very useful typing function and allows you to:
- Find answers to questions and exercises
- Invite students to produce a sample sentence
- Provide corrections for an error
- Encourage the class to interact and bond
While some teachers may have concerns about leaving groups of students alone in separate online areas, the breakout rooms are actually very useful. Students can:
- Complete pair or group work together and feedback to the class
- Practice speaking with partners
- Work together on a task to determine an outcome
- Create projects together and present them to the group
These features help keep students involved in an online environment. Not only do they encourage group work and interaction, but they can also develop reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.
How can teachers encourage student engagement in hybrid classes?
Kasia explains that one of the biggest challenges teachers face when teaching online and hybrid is: Keep students busy.
She explains that there are a number of ways to build engagement and motivate students. Including exercises that focus on creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and motor skills are crucial.
For example, you can add exercise breaks to your classes. Take a minute between lessons to allow students to stand up and move around. You can also play songs, show videos, encourage singing, and use interactive games. You can also try adding offline tasks, e.g. B. Painting and drawing for younger learners or projects and written work for adults.
This multi-sensory approach to the online learning environment will help counter any zoom fatigue of students as they move into the next academic year.
A sample hybrid lesson to increase engagement
Kasia offers us an example of a lesson that has a number of phases. She says it is important to add different dimensions to the classroom in order to create a successful and engaging hybrid classroom.
Kasia Janitz-de-la-Rue: Hybrid learning at the Pearson English Spring Days in May 2021.
Hello and goodbye stages
You should get involved with the class. Here it is advisable to catch up briefly before explaining what the students can expect in class. And don’t forget one final summary at the end.
Homework and review, you have to explain with absolute clarity, possibly with examples, what you expect from the students and answer any questions.
Warm-up and presentation phases
It’s a great opportunity for students to interact as a class. In addition, you can use your digital tools, the printed textbook or any other online platform with interactive activities for interaction. This gives them the opportunity to work together and interact as a whole.
Practice and production stages
You can add a mix of self-study and pair or group work to the class. Here you can set up a project or exercise and use the breakout rooms to allow students to work together in another location.
Adding these different sections will help keep your students motivated and follow their learning paths.
Find out more about hybrid teaching in the next academic year check out our blog!