October 5 marks World Teachers’ Day, dedicated to honoring teachers and educators worldwide. It is the anniversary of the adoption of a 1996 ILO UNESCO recommendation regarding teachers’ status, rights, and responsibilities.
In 2021, UNESCO chose to focus on the post-pandemic era with the theme “Teachers at the heart of education recovery.” When explaining their theme choice, organization executives stated that “Never have teachers been more wanted and needed than today,” and we couldn’t agree more. Understanding the impact of the global pandemic on education with all its challenges and opportunities will help countless people recover faster and better, turning this crisis into healthy development.
The rise and fall of online and hybrid learning
Among other changes, the pandemic gave online learning a much-needed boost. Around 80% of US households with school-age kids stated that online learning became a part of their routine. In higher education, more than 90% of students shifted to virtual learning. With some regions returning to classrooms at least partially, nearly 25% of US schools implemented hybrid learning by February 2021.
Hybrid classrooms have a lot to offer teachers and students. When done right, they combine online and in-person educational tools to give students more choice and control over the learning journey. But teachers continue to face the difficult task of transitioning to virtual and hybrid formats and guiding students and parents in the process. They often struggle, and research shows that almost half of those who quit teaching during the past 18 months made the choice due to pandemic-related reasons. Teachers reported high stress levels stemming from the need to work in an unfamiliar environment filled with technical challenges.
That is perfectly understandable and still unfortunate. It is a wake-up call for society to make more of an effort to give hard-working teachers the tools and support they need to succeed in this turbulent climate. On our end, Kaltura offers the technology required to make hybrid classrooms better and a few tips that can elevate the experience.
High hopes for hybrid
The following ideas can reduce teams’ stress levels and encourage hybrid learning.
- Form a strategy: Hybrid learning is a relatively new method and will go through a trial-and-error phase, but a proper strategy is still necessary. We’ve all had some time to adjust to the new situation, and school teams need to map their goals and match them with the right features. It may also help to keep in mind that hybrid learning will continue to be relevant after the pandemic is over, giving teachers and students more choice between the different options rather than forcing specific requirements based on current outbreaks.
- Don’t try to mimic traditional classrooms: When we’re familiar with a particular methodology, virtual tools are often steered to create an online version of what we already know. That’s a shame because hybrid classrooms can be more beneficial when we think outside the box (or the class). Maximize technology’s capabilities without trying to create a virtual version of typical classrooms. During the strategizing and mapping stage, think about your goals instead of the tasks you’re used to performing in class and try to reinvent the experience.
This may sound like a lot of work, but you’ll soon find out that using the right tools, traditional tasks take less of an effort. For example, quizzes dividing classrooms into groups based on their level of understanding can be replaced with a series of video-based questions that create a “choose your own adventure” learning path for each student. There’s no need to check exams or tailor the material later on.
- Enhance flexibility: As we’ve mentioned, hybrid classrooms bring together multiple learning methods for students to choose from, creating a more personal experience that fits individual needs. Offering different versions of similar tasks will allow students to connect with the topic on their own terms. Incorporating interactive features can also help, as it turns rigid methodologies into gamified, entertaining ones. Online questionnaires can boost engagement rates when teachers are losing students’ attention. If students struggle with a topic, they can approach it repeatedly from different angles and improve over time.
- Teach new media skills: If online and hybrid learning teach our society one thing, it’s that the world is going digital in every way. Take the opportunity to teach students new skills by giving video assignments that can be shared with the class. Sure, they’ve been creating TikTok videos for longer than you’ve known what that is, but perfecting their content and delivery is an art in its own right. Students would appreciate the chance to demonstrate their creativity and just might discover that video is an area they’re passionate about.
- Dive into data: Always wanted to understand students a little better? Allow data insights from your hybrid classroom to do it for you. Learn which content is more engaging, what helps struggling students understand complex topics, and what your classroom prefers to learn in-person rather than online. Then, improve your strategy based on these insights.
- Communicate with colleagues remotely: Hybrid teaching is for school teams, too. During the pandemic and long after, you and fellow teachers can use online communication channels to support one another, share knowledge with your community, and build a library of tips and instructions.
These ideas can be developed based on your classroom’s needs and preferences, but they fit different age groups and regions. This International Teachers Day, allow technology to make your life a little easier after all these challenging months. Harness hybrid learning features to build a blended teaching experience that stands out rather than blend in.
Looking for a virtual classroom solution? Try Kaltura for free, today!