Many schools around the world have introduced a hybrid model, blending distance learning with traditional classroom activities, so students can return safely. But is this educational model a keeper?
Battling the pandemic
In April 2020, there were 1.5 billion young people staying home due to worldwide lockdowns. Ever since then the question of how schools should reopen is a subject of fierce debate in many countries. While digital technology means many schools can switch to a fully online approach, many parents would still wish to see their kids in classes and playgrounds, socialising and learning amongst their peers.
One way to ‘ease’ schools back out of the lockdown era is a hybrid system that mixes online learning with traditional classroom activities. In the time of a global pandemic, this more flexible approach means schools can manage numbers in classes and on school grounds more easily. In the event of a Covid-19 resurgence in the community, online schooling would ensure continuity of learning.
A customisable model
The system is also customisable, meaning countries / communities can form a consensus on what they believe to be optimal. In Belgium, to take one example, secondary school students (over 12) will attend school four days a week from autumn, with an additional half-day online. In some American states, parents have been given the option of keeping the kids at home full-time or a hybrid system with the kids attending classes 2-3 days a week.
But aside from Covid-19 concerns, parents might discover there are other benefits to this approach to schooling. For example, educators and parents can alter blended curriculums to cater for individual interests / needs. Kids of a certain age may thrive with the extra sense of independence they feel when researching or pursuing self-paced studies. That raises the question: in the near future, will hybrid schools be deemed preferable to full-time learning at school? It’s worth noting that hybrid schools have been on the rise in the US long before Covid-19 came along.
Bring back the old normal!
Of course, parents with younger kids might be far less enthusiastic about a hybrid system as they would still have to supervise all activities at home. If both parents have full-time occupations, they would also probably prefer to hear that schools will reopen fully. For now, no matter where they are located in the world, parents will have to maintain an adaptive mindset when it comes to education.