Hybrid learning environments require students to bounce between in person learning and online learning. Blending classroom and online methodology, hybrid learning is relatively new to elementary, middle, and high school students. In the hybrid classroom, all students are working on the same activities, whether via Zoom or Google hangouts. Students respond to discussion prompts in real time, giving teachers the opportunity to call on students who are in person and those who are attending class via a computer screen. Typically, the hybrid model works best if the learning platform is flexible, and the student and teacher actively participate in identifying problems, concerns and successes – giving all students opportunities to mark learning milestones. 

Here are six ways to maximize student engagement in a hybrid learning environment.

1 – Engage students in active learning. Courses taught both online and in person should teach students valuable problem solving and critical thinking skills. Students should be encouraged to answer direct questions and participate in discussion time, so they have an opportunity to spark new questions and ideas. 

2 – Build a community. For students to excel, teachers must emphasize classroom rules and norms and maximize team building activities as soon as the class starts. Students who are physically in class should make sure to interact with students learning remotely, and vice versa. This can be done through a variety of activities. For younger students, teachers can engage in person and remote learners in online games, like Kahoot! For older students, teachers can form debate groups or project groups that combine in person and remote learners. 

3 – Give students the opportunity to collaborate whenever possible. Collaboration is more than just a work-sharing opportunity. It can be a think tank and a socio-emotional growth tool for students. Collaborating with peers is essential to learning, as students learn to communicate ideas effectively when working together. In hybrid classrooms, one of the most important things to do is to create small breakout groups of three to five students, mixing in person and remote-learning students, so they can work together to problem solve, complete in class assignments, and discuss ideas. 

4 – Make students stakeholders in their learning experience. In a hybrid classroom, students have a greater opportunity to learn based on their strengths. While this is challenging in a larger classroom environment, the hybrid learning model encourages students to do a certain amount of independent work. They can better pace themselves and can focus on their interests. This creates an opportunity for the student to leverage his/her strengths and build off their interests. As a result,  students will have a better learning experience and outcome, will be more motivated, and will have a better grasp of key, essential curriculum concepts. 

5 – Continuously innovate and be flexible. Both teachers and students will need to be flexible as they continue to adapt to hybrid learning environments. Blended learning is not about implementing an existing curriculum. Existing curriculum is a starting point, giving students and teachers opportunities to explore, take risks, and problem solve. This will require patience on the part of teachers and students, as everyone learns to adapt. 

6 – Support hybrid learning with outside resources whenever possible. Multiple online learning platforms exist to help students these days. Whether a student needs a simple explanation or needs complex concepts broken down, GAMECHANGER tutors work with students, one-on-one, to support hybrid learning and to help students fill in any conceptual gaps. 

Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, schools are not going back to the traditional large classroom model anytime soon. Maximizing student engagement in the hybrid learning environment will be key to a successful school year for students of all ages.