Hybrid and blended learning challenges
Outdated technology infrastructure
At the core of hybrid and blended learning is the technology that supports it. Generation Z students expect a seamless, high-quality digital learning experience. While there are several technology components to consider when moving to a hybrid or blended learning model, here are a few key questions to answer:
- Can the network accommodate an influx of off-campus traffic?
- Is there an effective way for students to collaborate online?
- How will faculty manage assignment submissions and grading?
What videoconferencing options are available?
- What integrations are available to create a streamlined experience?
Is security in place to protect student information and course materials?
Lack of technology knowledge
After ensuring the right mix of technology is in place, the next challenge is training instructors and students to use it. For many instructors, hybrid and blended learning will be new to them. Take time to provide training on how to get started, best practices and specific use cases to get instructors comfortable using the technology. When instructors understand and believe in the importance of the technology, it will shine through to their students. At the beginning of a course, instructors should provide students with instructions and expectations for using the technology to ensure successful adoption.
Course design and strategy
Hybrid and blended learning are a shift in mindset from traditional face-to-face instruction. It’s not simply uploading in-person lesson plans to an online platform and calling it hybrid or blended learning. It requires instructors to completely rethink how courses are designed and strategize which components are best suited for online instruction and which should remain in person. Not to mention, the components moving online will most likely need to be restructured to be effective. Institutions that carefully weld together traditional instruction with online instruction will reap the full benefits of hybrid and blended learning.
Tips for achieving learning outcomes with hybrid and blended learning
No matter where or how students are learning, it shouldn’t be a hindrance to achieving your institution’s learning outcomes. With the right people, processes and technology in place, hybrid and blended learning can be a positive step forward for higher education. Here are a few tips when getting started.
Build a solid technology foundation: A learning management system (LMS) is just one component of the technology foundation needed to successfully deliver hybrid and blended learning. Institutions should also look to incorporate tools like videoconferencing, messaging, scheduling, office hours and interactive whiteboarding. Cisco Webex Education Connector and Webex Classrooms are great options for seamlessly integrating these features into an interface that instructors and students are familiar with.
- Identify champions: Seek out champions within your institution that are passionate about distance learning and willing to help faculty during the transition. It’s important instructors feel supported during this time.
- Share success stories: It’s crucial to maintain a positive attitude among instructors as they adapt their courses. Keep instructors motivated by sharing what’s working (and not working) so they can apply those learnings to their own courses.
- Be realistic: Hybrid and blended learning take time to perfect. Avoid stressing out faculty by setting realistic goals when starting hybrid and blended learning. These goals can be reevaluated each semester or year as your institution’s model becomes more robust.