The Horizon Report 2014 K-12 Edition – Going hybrid

I bought a Toyota Prius last year and I love it!  Its a hybrid, and as such it runs on two a combination of electricity and petrol, powered by two different batteries.  The common misconception is that I must have to do something to charge the hybrid battery, however, it charges itself just like the other battery.  Whenever my car is running under 20km/h it runs on the hybrid battery and when it is not revving very high it runs on the hybrid battery, meaning it does not use any petrol.  I do not have to do anything, it knows what to and makes the switch as needed.  Overall, the fuel efficiency of my car is incredible and I will get at least 800 km out of a tank of petrol, averaging 4.5L/100km 🙂  So why the big spiel about my car (well I do love it)?  Hybrid learning designs were identified by the Horizon report as a mid-range trend in K-12 education and this involves utilising a range of teaching and learning modes to facilitate experiences for students that produce quality learning outcomes.

“Schools that are making use of hybrid learning models are finding that using both the physical and the virtual learning environments to their highest potentials allows teachers to further personalise the learning experience, engage students in a broader variety of ways, and even extend the learning day.  Hybrid models, when designed and implemented effectively, enable students to use the school day for group work and project-based activities, while using the network to access readings, videos, and other learning materials on their own time, leveraging the best of both environments.” (p. 12)

My school does use a learning management system (LMS) and of course a lot of face-to-face learning.  However, utilising a LMS does not mean that online learning models are being implemented.  They have tried the flipped classroom learning model but I am not sure to what extent.  The effectiveness of a hybrid learning model is based on the balance between web-delivery and face-to-face time collaboration.  Hybrid learning can be achieved effectively through the flipped classroom model, which has students engage with some sort of online learning activities, often times a video, before class allowing more time in class to apply the newly acquired knowledge and skills in a collaborative activity.  Homework is given to students in most schools, following many lessons, however, what I have found is that homework is given to followup the lesson just completed and further cement in the knowledge and skills acquired into students’ long-term working memory.  With that said, to adopt a hybrid learning model more, homework could be set that not only follows up the lesson but prepares students for the subsequent lesson, adopting a flipped classroom model.  If the homework also makes use of the LMS (not just for the sake of it), engaging students in online learning activities, then hybrid learning is achieved.

My perceived issues with hybrid learning and why there is not a great take-up of it within primary and secondary contexts is:

  • Takes ‘too much’ preparation time
  • Requires more professional development for teachers to achieve
  • Not enough knowledge of hybrid learning designs
  • More instructional time online and outside of classroom time means relinquishing control
  • Collaboration is harder to assess and monitor
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIb8t2PQBvQ]

Just like my hybrid car, who when it starts runs on the electric battery and when it slows down to under 20km/h, a hybrid learning design will often start and end with an online learning activity.  The best of two, or more, worlds are combined to create a new design and that is what we see in good hybrid learning designs, the combination of and complementary use of both online and face-to-face learning activities.  Universities have been engaging with hybrid learning for some time, but how can K-12 learn from them and bring it into their contexts.

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