If there’s one thing that’s certain as we adapt to post-pandemic life, it’s adopting the hybrid model of learning and working. At the inception of the pandemic, the hybrid model seemed to be more popular among startups or companies with a younger demographic, think Millennials or Gen-Z upper management. Today, it would almost seem weird not to have hybrid working or learning options as a given. Companies, employees, universities, and students alike have become accustomed to the hybrid model, and ultimately, this will impact their education and career choices in the future. So, how can universities create a hub for innovative learning and prepare students for the hybrid workforce? Here, our operations software experts at SCLogic discuss the future of hybrid learning in higher-ed and how students can utilize technology to create an education plan that will propel them to succeed in the new world of the hybrid workforce.
The Adoption of Hybrid Learning for Higher Education
It’s no surprise that during the beginning of the pandemic, the adjustment period for students and faculty made the hybrid learning approach somewhat difficult. But after two years, both parties have made significant strides in adopting a hybrid learning model, ultimately finding that it benefits them over strictly traditional learning. According to the Institute for the Future of Education, online learning has increased student retention rates between 25 to 60%, with 52% of U.S. graduate students considering online college education superior to in-class learning.
There are many benefits to the hybrid learning model for college students, including interactive learning to foster engagement, additional technology and materials, the ability to re-watch lectures and improve study habits, and for some colleges, the ability to learn on their own time. The hybrid model is an excellent way for students to enhance their time management skills by navigating their coursework with other obligations while utilizing tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), mobile-first learning, and short-form video content to harness engagement for a more productive university experience. There are two major hybrid learning models, including:
- The Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex) Course Model – each class is offered both in-person and online, and students can decide which learning style works best for them.
- The Modified Tutorial Model – geared toward more personalized learning with small group interactions and meetings to dive deeper into content taught online.
The Growth of Blended Learning to Improve Collaboration
You may have heard these two terms used interchangeably in hybrid learning and blended learning, but there are some differences between these two learning models. While hybrid learning focuses on harnessing digital tools to improve learning over a traditional classroom setting, blended learning splits time between digital and in-person learning, helping students maintain a sense of collaboration and improve face-to-face communication post-pandemic. While hybrid learning has many benefits, blended learning can also be a fantastic solution to help students better their digital skills without neglecting traditional communication. The Clayton Christensen Institute, a non-profit dedicated to improving education, founded seven blended learning models, which can be seen below.
- Station Rotation Model – students rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, with one distance learning station included.
- Lab Rotation Model – like the Station Rotation Model, distance learning occurs in a computer lab.
- Individual Rotation Model – students rotate through stations based on personal schedules determined by the instructor.
- Flipped Classroom Model – students complete online coursework and lectures outside of the classroom, and in-class instruction is used for more profound learning initiatives.
- Flex Model – instructors provide as-needed support while students work through course content flexibly.
- A La Carte Model – students choose to take online courses alongside face-to-face courses for increased flexibility for their schedules.
- Enriched Virtual Model – students complete most of their coursework online but attend required face-to-face sessions with professors.
How Can Higher Ed Prepare Students for the Workforce?
Now that we’ve unpacked the differences between hybrid and blended learning and discussed the statistics and benefits they provide, you’re probably wondering how universities can achieve this. We know that not every campus has equal access to resources, excessive budgets, or even a steady enrollment to help keep your doors open. However, meaningful changes through technology adoption offer reduced costs long-term and a happier student body. For example, Ithaca S+R conducted a study regarding interactive online learning at public universities. With 100-student sections, hybrid classes were 40-60% cheaper than the section-only model and 40% cheaper than the lecture-section model, and this includes increased compensation for instructors factored in. So, with hybrid learning bringing additional access and resources to students, how will they maximize their education in the workforce?
As Gen-Z continues to enter the workforce, one area in which their knowledge far surpasses that of previous generations is digital skills. Current college students have likely grown up with a phone in their hand since elementary school, and their ability to adopt new technology quickly is unsurpassed. With the increasing use of technology in the workforce, digital skills are necessary, and hybrid learning can facilitate expedited growth. From micro-credentials in UX/UI and other STEM programs to collaboration in cinematography and other creative realms, hybrid learning allows students to maximize their digital skills through meaningful incorporation of technology that will set them ahead of the game for post-grad job hunting.
In-Person and Online Communication Skills
One caveat of hybrid learning is the struggle of communication. With in-person communication, it is easier to read the facial expressions, body language, and tone of peers or instructors, whereas, with hybrid learning, some of these cues can get lost. Thankfully, many hybrid programs now foster communication skills to help students bridge that gap, requiring students to learn to be clear and concise with their needs and express if something was misconstrued. Furthermore, they can navigate different contexts of communication easier, such as emails, video, and messaging platforms, that they may not have had access to in a traditional education setting.
Commitment and Time Management Skills
Besides digital and communication skills, one of the essential workplace skills that hybrid and blended learning promotes is commitment and time management. For many students, the traditional education system enables the physical presence of students, even if they are not engaged in learning. However, hybrid and blended learning brings personal responsibility to the student to join through video and participate in each lecture, just as they would join meetings in the workplace. Additionally, programs with more flexible schedules require students to make sure their work is getting completed in between their other obligations, boosting time management from a younger age.
Be A Part of EdTech Growth with SCLogic
Edtech seems to be growing exponentially, and it can be challenging to know how to make changes to your campus for maximum efficiency. While it may seem overwhelming, even making minor changes to your campus, such as modern operations software, can expedite so many of the workflows your team spends countless time and money on and, in turn, provide forward-thinking solutions for students that will improve their on-campus and virtual learning experiences. To learn more about our Intra EDU software for higher education, email [email protected] or schedule a demo with one of our team members to see how your campus could benefit!