At HomeSphero Staff
Two young boys sit at a kitchen table working on a homework assignment.

Summary:  

  • Hybrid learning is an approach to teaching that uses online and in-person learning experiences to help students achieve various learning objectives.  
  • One of the key benefits is its flexible options, giving students the best learning experience for each objective.
  • Because of the many available resources for educators, adapting a hybrid learning model into a curriculum can be seamless.

Technology is constantly evolving, and that means many things in our everyday lives are evolving alongside it. From self-driving cars to the latest smartphone, the technology sector has found a way to simplify, streamline, and enhance nearly every aspect of our daily routines — so it’s not surprising that advancements in the Education Technology industry are gaining traction within our tech movement.

Oftentimes referred to as “EdTech,” this area of technology focuses on the development and application of software, hardware, and digital processes to promote a better education and learning experience. At its core, EdTech aims to provide more engaging, easily accessible learning experiences for students on a global scale. 

While many teachers and schools of all levels have already started to implement these digital strategies into their curriculum, the benefits of the classroom environment are not being left by the wayside. Thankfully, because of hybrid learning, students of all ages are now able to get the best of both educational worlds.

But what exactly is hybrid learning? And how can this educational approach benefit your student or child? At Sphero, our STEM-based learning experts are here to explain how hybrid learning can create informative, engaging educational experiences, as well as how our programmable robots and educational tools can help facilitate a robust hybrid learning experience. 

What Is Hybrid Learning?

More than a classroom syllabus converted into a virtual study hall, hybrid learning combines online and in-person learning experiences into one curriculum. Hybrid learning differentiates itself from blended learning, as the hybrid learning model means teachers may instruct in-person students and remote students simultaneously based on the learning styles and needs of each student.

Much like blended learning, hybrid learning can also include asynchronous learning tools like pre-recorded video instruction and online assignments to support in-person classroom initiatives. Some common hybrid learning curriculums feature half of the class sessions in a classroom and the other half online, while others feature a 90/10 split.

The Benefits of a Hybrid Learning Environment

While online learning and traditional classroom learning both have strengths and weaknesses, hybrid learning brings the two together to eliminate pitfalls and create well-rounded students. The benefits of hybrid learning include:

Classroom Flexibility and Self-Discipline

One of the key benefits of hybrid learning is classroom flexibility. Because some students might not be able to attend in-person courses, hybrid learning allows them to learn remotely while following the same curriculum as their peers. This learning model also gives students flexibility with their learning schedule, material engagement, and with peer-to-peer collaboration — all of which facilitate self-discipline, as each student has more control over their own success.

For teachers, hybrid learning allows for flexible teaching modes, which means students will spend more time growing, thinking critically, and collaborating and less time meeting in-seat quotas. It also makes in-classroom time a more precious commodity, which facilities an active environment in which students can explore topics deeply with their peers and get valuable face-to-face time with their teacher.

Synchronous Communication and Whole-Brain Thinking 

Combining online learning with face-to-face interactions allows for synchronous communication and whole-brain thinking. Students can explore subject matter independently, absorb structured information, craft a creative dialogue with their peers, and become well-educated with the topic at hand on their own terms.

From reading in-depth articles to watching videos as many times as needed, online learners can gain concept familiarity that is difficult to achieve in a fast-moving classroom. Plus, many students are not comfortable expressing their ideas out loud in front of their peers but feel confident sharing their thoughts via online communication.

Because structured learning can be achieved online with hybrid learning, the traditional classroom can be used to take a deep dive into subject matter in a collaborative environment. All-classroom discussions, group projects, individual presentations, and visible social cues offer meaningful learning opportunities and drive home the content learned online.

6 Steps To Planning a Hybrid Learning Model 

When it comes to planning your hybrid learning model, it’s best to start at least 3 to 6 months in advance and focus on specific tasks for each educational medium. For instance, you’ll want to ask your students to complete online coursework that’s a good fit for the digital landscape. Likewise, you’ll want to have specific coursework set for face-to-face interactions in the classroom.

The goal with establishing a hybrid learning plan is to have both types of learning feed off of and amplify one another, which will ensure your students are receiving the most comprehensive education possible. Once you are ready to plan your hybrid learning coursework, make sure to set aside plenty of time to fine-tune assignments and possibly give your course a test run.   

Once you’ve determined that hybrid learning is right for your classroom or household, here’s how to get started:  

1. Identify Course Description, Goals, and Objectives 

In order to create a hybrid learning course, you need to create a course description, as well as goals and objectives you want your students to achieve. This will help you see the overarching structure of your program and help you lay the groundwork of your plan.  

2. Determine Assessments  

Assessments are an important part of any curriculum, as they help you identify whether or not your students have mastered their coursework. From major assessments like projects and portfolios to everyday assessments like homework and pop-quizzes, you should develop your course assessments early in the planning phase.

3. Map a Chronological Course Path 

Once your core assessments are identified, you can start to map out the route your students will take from the beginning of the course to the end. This map will document what your units and modules will be, how they will fall into place in your map, and the materials that will be needed in each module of your course.

4. Create In-Person Activities  

The most critical aspect to developing a working hybrid learning model is to create activities that flow with each learning medium. For face-to-face learning sessions, focus on doing engaging activities like:

  • Defining assignments 
  • Establishing social connections
  • Critical thinking or brainstorming sessions
  • Presentations or group projects
  • Demonstration of psychomotor skills 
  • Discovering conceptual problems and providing guidance  

With the help of video conferencing tools, synchronous in-person activities can still work for students who are learning remotely.

5. Create Online Activities 

In a hybrid learning environment, online activities should be reserved for subject matter instruction, personal learning, and self-reflection. For online learning sessions, focus on creating activities like:  

  • Individual content consumption and activity completion  
  • Self-paced learning, practicing, and reflecting 
  • Critical analyses and summaries of subject matter 
  • Pop quizzes that feature true or false or fill-in-the-blank questions 
  • Discussion board dialogue with peers 

6. Source Course Content 

Now that you've laid out your coursework for both learning environments, the real fun begins. It's time to source content for your curriculum. From course reading materials to captivating video content, you can begin to finalize your syllabus and set your hybrid learning model into motion. 

If your school already offers hybrid learning, you will likely have access to archived learning materials and content to use within your course. However, there are many resources out there on educational websites, including discipline-specific sites, MERLOT, OER, and Sphero Edu

Implement Hybrid Learning Using STEAM and Sphero 

Making STEAM a part of your hybrid learning curriculum is a no-brainer. That’s because STEAM education already facilitates structured and collaborative learning through its emphasis on play-based learning and engaging activities. Plus, the skills gained through STEAM education are strengthened using virtual and in-person learning experiences. Because STEAM offers flexible options for learning, it’s a natural fit in any hybrid learning curriculum.

With a hybrid learning curriculum in place, your students’ coursework possibilities are endless. To help you develop captivating and engaging assignments that will keep your class hooked, Sphero has remarkably cool programmable robots and STEAM-driven educational tools that will help them learn how coding can facilitate real-world applications. 

An Introduction to Programming with Sphero BOLT 

For example, with the Sphero BOLT Power Pack, you’ll have everything you need for your students to start learning about the intricate world of programming — both in the classroom and at home. During your first in-person session with Sphero, you can guide your students through Sphero Baby Steps to make learning the language of code a little bit easier. (If applicable, your remote students could follow along via video conferencing with their own Sphero BOLT.) 

Once your students have developed the fundamentals of programming Sphero in the classroom, you can then implement online learning assignments that help them absorb simple programming techniques. Through short online quizzes and relevant readings with Sphero’s Computer Science Foundation courses, your class will develop coding skills both in and out of the classroom in no time. 

littleBits STEAM+ Class Pack 

Another example is implementing the littleBits STEAM+ Class Pack into your hybrid learning program. With the ability to engage 20-30 students in one bundle, littleBits will give your students access to modular circuits that have an infinite amount of applications. From physical inventions to games, you can read through our Educator Quick Start Guide and walk your students through littleBits Classroom to get to know their code kits. (If applicable, your remote students could follow along via video conferencing with their own set of littleBits.) 

 Similar to online activities suggested for the Sphero BOLT, your students can supplement their littleBits programming knowledge online via true or false quizzes, relevant readings, and more.   

Here’s a tip: Go further with littleBits using the littleBits Fuse app. Using the app, students can program their Bits using conditionals, loops, and functions.

Take Hybrid Learning One Step Further With Sphero 

When you implement hybrid learning into your curriculum, you give your students the opportunity to experience whole-brain learning at a higher level than in-person or online learning alone. And, with classroom flexibility, synchronous communication, and self-paced coursework absorption, students will become well-rounded thinkers with a drive to succeed.   

To take hybrid learning one step further, Sphero is here to help you implement a multi-disciplinary educational approach. With our programmable robots, electronic building blocks, and STEAM-based educational tools, your students will gain access to hands-on learning experiences in STEM — helping them to become innovative thinkers, self-driven inventors, and creative problem-solvers.  

For more information on how Sphero can impact your students’ hybrid learning experience, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today. We look forward to helping you inspire the creators of tomorrow!

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