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Five pedagogies at the heart of hybrid learning

Five pedagogies at the heart of hybrid learning

One of a series of guides on hybrid learning
There are several pedagogical approaches that are considered central to hybrid learning. These should inform the policies, procedures and design of hybrid learning programmes and approaches.

Flipped learning: 

In flipped learning, there is a focus on delivering content (by video, for example) and other resources online, whether the student is onsite or remote, and then going deeper into this content through face-to-face interactions (both online and onsite), often with the teacher but also collaboratively with peers. This contrasts with traditional learning in which the main role of the teacher has often been to deliver the content and then students delve deeper into the content in follow up tasks often done independently or for homework. In flipped learning, the main role of the teacher becomes to take the learning deeper through discussions, hands-on activities and collaboration.

You will notice, as you go through each of the pedagogies below, that flipped learning supports and enables deeper expressions of the pedagogies than more traditional approaches to teaching and learning often do.

Personalisation of learning: 

This is a profoundly learner-centred approach. It involves having a clear understanding of the needs and learning goals of each individual student and then tailoring the instruction, wherever they are learning, to address those needs. Personalisation of learning is an essential aspect of hybrid learning. These needs and goals, and progress towards them, will be highly visible (transparent) and easily accessible to teachers, as well as to students and their whānau, and will be frequently discussed among these parties, and updated accordingly. Technology assists effective personalisation of learning, but please note, this is not simply referring to individualised learning programmes using adaptive technology (although this could form part of a personalised learning programme).

Personalised hybrid learning programmes will have a focus on the whole child (the personhood of the student) and will consider and support the social and emotional wellbeing of each student. Building successful relationships with learners, and effective and engaging learning experiences, are founded on understanding where they come from, and what is important to them. Thus, personalised learning programmes will include valuing the various cultural and other identities that students bring with them into their learning.

It is important to note that there is not yet one shared definition of personalized learning; however, leading practitioners in the field generally look for the following: 

  1. systems and approaches that accelerate and deepen student learning by tailoring instruction to each student’s individual needs, skills and interests; 
  2. engaging students in a variety of rich learning experiences that collectively prepare students for their futures; and 
  3. teachers’ integral role in student learning: designing and managing the learning environment, leading instruction, and providing students with expert guidance and support to motivate students to take increasing ownership of their learning.

Student agency, voice and self-directedness: 

Students will benefit from the ability to work independently and in self-directed ways in hybrid learning, and scaffolding learners toward taking ownership of their learning will be an important focus for the design of hybrid learning programmes. Student agency and self-directedness is important in all learning, but it becomes particularly important in hybrid learning because without a teacher closely overseeing the learning at home, successful learning will rely on the ability of students to work independently. This is especially so if whānau/family are not able to provide significant support and guidance due to their circumstances, such as being essential workers or their lack of confidence. It is also necessary for onsite students to be able to learn independently, to free kaiako up to work with online students and other groups of onsite students. 

Continual feedback loops, to gather information about how students are experiencing the learning programme and whether it is meeting their needs, becomes 
particularly important in hybrid learning to inform ongoing planning and supports. These feedback loops need to include both students and whānau/families as well as teachers.

Despite a great deal of talk over a number of years about the importance of student agency and self-directedness, the reality is that it has not moved much beyond a very superficial expression of it in many schools. This is partly because so many of our traditional ways of “doing” teaching and learning haven’t lent themselves to more than a contrived expression of student agency and self-directedness. A hybrid learning approach requires student agency and self-directedness, and scaffolding all students towards increasing expressions of it becomes necessary for the learning to be successful. Hybrid learning provides an authentic context and reason for developing student agency.

Active learning:

Research is clear that online learning is most effective when it is also active and has an orientation towards interactive, project based, inquiry learning and cross curricular approaches. Using active learning strategies provides opportunities for students to learn through exploration and collaboration.

There are a wide range of alternatives for the term active learning, such as: learning through play, technology-based learning, activity-based learning, group work, project method, inquiry learning, etc. The common factors in these are a greater level of “activeness” by the student. Active learning is the opposite of passive learning; it is learner-centred, not teacher-centred, and requires more than just listening; the active participation of each and every student is a necessary aspect in active learning. Students must be doing things and simultaneously thinking about the work being done and the purpose behind it so that they can enhance their higher order thinking capabilities. This means that learning needs to be visible to them. See Making Learning Visible guide

Note: active learning does not mean that students are never expected to listen – but that they are expected to be active while listening (taking notes, drawing conclusions, answering questions or simply thinking deeply) in other words, actively listening. This is why accessing content through a video or a text which allow students to stop, think and rewind if they do not understand it, is a more effective approach than a lecture that cannot be rewound or slowed down to allow for reflection time when the student needs it. Accessing learning through video, such as in flipped learning, supports student agency and self-directedness.

Educators use seven key principles to maximize the impact of active learning. Activities for active learning are more successful the more they:

  • Are relevant to students’ concerns.
  • Require students to reflect on the meaning of what they’ve learned.
  • Give students the opportunity to negotiate goals.
  • Enable students to critically evaluate different ways and means of learning the content.
  • Encourage students to understand learning tasks as they relate to real-life complexities.
  • Are developed based on the need of the given situation.
  • Are engaging and reflect real-life tasks. 

Enriched virtual learning: 

This learning pedagogy is a blended learning approach, with online learning becoming the backbone of the learning programme whether students are onsite or learning remotely. Though moving to enriched virtual learning may seem to be a small change (that is, it may seem to be a subtle difference), it actually makes a world of difference to hybrid learning because shifting to online learning as the backbone of the programme makes it a very small step to include remote learners. In this approach, the same teacher generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher.


Together these pedagogical approaches will lead to deep hybrid learning in which students experience learning that sticks for life. Deep learning is both profoundly personalized and learner-centred and is intrinsically motivating for students as they pursue topics that are of real interest to them, have authentic meaning, and are more rigorous. This combination of support, autonomy, belonging and meaningful work is motivating and engaging for students. You will recognise these simply as the pedagogies of quality teaching and learning. 

Where might you start?

Extend your learning:

  • Follow the links below to find out more about any pedagogical approaches you would like to know more about.Think critically about what you read/hear. Some questions to consider
    • What are the main characteristics of the pedagogical approach? What is similar in each of these articles/videos?
    • What are we already doing? What could we try?
    • What won’t work in our place? Why? Am I sure? What don’t I agree with?
    • What will take me forward in my/our school’s practice? How do/will we express this pedagogy in our school?
    • Write down any actions you have decided you need to take and create an action plan.
  • To use this as a group or whole staff, smaller groups could choose a pedagogical approach to explore further(carrying out a mini literature review) and the questions above could be used to formulate a report back to the bigger group. This could be treated as a collaborative inquiry so following on from each group’s report back and discussion, actions going forward could be generated by the whole group.

Further Information 

Flipped learning:

Personalisation of learning:

Student agency and self-directedness:

Active learning:

Enriched virtual learning: