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Hybrid education: the opportunities left by the pandemic for academia. | OPINION

Docente de Broward lnternational University- BIU

In the first months of 2020, there was a rampant growth in the cases of COVID-19 infections, which unleashed a pandemic that has had a significant impact on education worldwide. This event caused the closure of schools and universities around the world, and forced academic teams to seek alternatives to provide continuity to educational systems.

As a main alternative, technology was used for the delivery of education. Those institutions that had embraced online education as part of their strategy simply continued those efforts. Those who, over the past decade, had resisted change and had not embraced technology to support instruction were forced to implement ’emergency remote teaching’ (Emergency remole teaching), to safeguard the well being of students, teachers and all staff.

Here it is necessary to differentiate between ’emergency remote teaching’, which is perhaps best described as converting or moving classroom courses to a virtual environment, and online learning, which is defined as a learning experience that is designed for the online environment and takes advantage of its unique properties to provide students with an effective learning experience.

In an accelerated way and Within a few days, the faculty, staff and students enacted drastic conversions to continue the core mission of teaching and learn during the pandemic.

TEACHINGS FOR INSTITUTIONS, TEACHERS AND STUDENTS OF VIRTUAL TRAINING

In the first place, the institutions that for nearly a decade were considering disruptive technologies are striking. and They had not adopted them for fear that such investments might take the place of experiential face-to-face education. These institutions had to be moved abruptly to poorly planned teaching and, in many cases, in the absence of best practices in instructional design.

As a result, several investigations show disinterest and the lack of motivation on the part of many students to participate in an education focused more on teaching than on learning.

This process revealed the state of the digital divide when these institutions switched to remote learning in the spring of 2020. It was quickly discovered that a large number of students did not have laptops, reliable access to the internet, or the technical tools they needed. they needed to continue their studies. This caused that many could not continue their studies.

“As we return to the classroom and academic institutions focus on reopening, it will determine what education will look like in the future and how new online teaching methods and technologies will fit in.”

On the other hand, during this period, academic institutions have realized that there are operational functions that can be carried out remotely, having a minimal impact on the operation and generating savings in operational expenses. This has forced a reevaluation of the operational model.

BACK TO «NORMALITY», WHAT COULD BE DEVELOPED VIRTUALLY AND WHAT IN THE PRESENTIAL WAY?

The positive side of the pandemic is that innovation has suddenly gone from being a marginalized activity to the center of many education systems. This not only changed the classroom environment, but also the way students and educators engage in the learning experience.

As we return to the classroom and academic institutions focus on reopening, it will determine what education will look like in the future and how new methods will fit in. and online teaching technologies.

The trend that is being seen is moving to a hybrid teaching model, where remote learning is combined with face-to-face learning. What components of a course can be developed virtually and which remotely? The answer depends on the subject.

A version of this modality that has been studied in recent years is the inverted living room (flipped classroom). This is a blended learning model in which traditional ideas about classroom activities and homework are reversed. In this model, instructors first have students interact with new homework material remotely, usually via videos. Then they use class time to discuss the new information. and put those ideas into practice.

“Multiple academic investigations have found that virtual or online education has, at least, the same validity and academic demand as face-to-face”.

REDUCING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

As we mentioned, rushing into emergency remote education did not take into consideration the needs of students and teachers who did not have the proper communications infrastructure to support such an effort. This revealed the levels of digital divide present in different geographical settings, which affected, to a greater extent, low-income students and rural areas.

We can see that there is a tendency for hybrid learning, a combination of face-to-face teaching and remote teaching, be the teaching modality that will predominate in the coming years.

The foregoing requires that governments provide access to the communications infrastructure (internet) necessary so that all students can access it on equal terms. Without meaningful intervention, turning to technology in the pandemic will perpetuate and exacerbate disparities in access and The quality of education.

BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, IT WAS THOUGHT THAT VIRTUAL EDUCATION DID NOT HAVE THE SAME VALIDITY AND ACADEMIC DEMAND THAN THE PRESENTIAL. THAT WAS IN THE PAST?

Multiple academic investigations have found that virtual or online education has, at least, the same validity and academic requirement as face-to-face. In the case of virtual education, it requires a higher degree of autonomy on the part of the student. But it is worth clarifying once again: emergency remote teaching should not be confused with online education.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO COMBINE THE TWO MODALITIES OR IS IT NECESSARY TO CHOOSE?

After going through the experience of the past months, most of the teachers have become familiar and have accepted the challenge of implementing technological innovations in the classroom. This is a big step, as resistance to change is one of the detracting forces of online education. It is the best time for them to continue with that effort and combine it with the face-to-face modality.

WHAT’S COMING BY 2022?

The trend indicates that the hybrid modality is the one that will predominate. This provides the institution, like virtual education, a form of resilience.

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