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Seven actions necessary for getting started with hybrid learning

Seven actions necessary for getting started with hybrid learning

One of a series of guides on hybrid learning

Choose a central online platform

You will put all your learning tasks and learning resources onto this platform so that all students can access them whether learning remotely or onsite at school.

Some things to think about:

  • Feedback from teachers and parents suggests that this platform should be the same throughout the school so that parents with several children only need to learn how to get around one online platform rather than several. Even better is to use the same platform throughout a cluster of schools or a Kāhui Ako. 
  • This central online platform does not need to be a full LMS (learning management system), but could be as simple as a Google site which is freely available as part of the Google for Education suite of products.
  • As Urs (in the video) suggests, use the same site for onsite learning whether remote learning is required or not. This will ensure everyone (teachers, ākonga, parents/whanau) are familiar with the online platform and, at times where remote learning is required, will easily be able to navigate around it independently.
  • Although the main goal is to ensure familiarity with the platform no matter where students are in the school, allow some flexibility for teachers/subs to add some unique markers or decorations to add some uniqueness to their sites.

Keeping it simple

An interview with Urs Cunningham, Principal of Amesbury School.

Important point: this online platform will be used by both onsite and remote learners.

Choose a limited toolkit of online learning tools

It is useful to begin with a limited range of online learning tools that you use consistently for learning programmes whether onsite or remote. A limited range will assist teachers/kaiako, ākonga and parents/whānau to gain familiarity with them quickly. The range can be increased once everyone has become familiar with the toolkit. However, only change or exchange an old tool with a new tool if it brings greater value, not because of personal preference. It will help with everyone’s cognitive load (capacity or space for thinking) if the toolkit remains limited with tools that are quality and fit for purpose and consistently used across onsite and remote learning environments. 

Some schools have requirements for particular tools to be used across the school. This can be helpful, particularly for parents/whānau and ākonga working remotely. However, there will need to be differentiation based on year level.

It is helpful to use the same tools whether ākonga are working onsite at school or remotely, and to continue using the same tools when there is no longer a need for remote learning. This means that the transition to remote/hybrid learning will be much smoother when it is necessary and will also improve the quality of learning opportunities when students are learning onsite.

Provide clear guidance and expectations for teachers for online learning

When something is new, it creates additional cognitive load. Moving to hybrid learning will initially increase the cognitive load for many teachers as they learn lots of new ways of doing things. It is always easier to go back to what we already know. Having clear guidance and expectations will be very helpful for teachers because it reduces that cognitive load. 

To start with, the guidance/expectations might be quite prescriptive while teachers develop the new planning habits and then it might be able to become less prescriptive. 

This guidance will include expectations for how teachers will interact and connect with remote students, and the expected frequency of those interactions. This is important to ensure equitable and inclusive learning opportunities because “out of sight, out of mind” is very real and it is easy for teachers to forget about remote learners because the onsite students take up their full attention. The “how” of these connections and interactions will likely look different for students who do not have devices and/or do not have access to internet. For these students, phone might be the only method of contact. Having this information about students on file at all times is important. (See next section.) Maintaining connections with students supports their wellbeing and social skills, and will help to aid an easier transition back to school. It is a very important aspect of a remote learning programme.

The guidance/expectations will likely include expectations for feedback and monitoring of students’ engagement in the tasks and their progress and completion of tasks. 

Collect information about ākonga

Schools generally gather information about ākonga and families/whānau as a regular part of their enrolment and parent/whānau communication processes. However, remote learning requires information not generally collected at the time of enrolment. It is worth updating what is collected so that the school has the necessary information for hybrid learning at its fingertips.

It needs to be noted that the sort of information required for remote learning will need to be continually updated to ensure it is current and accurate, as some students and families come and go, and, for others, their circumstances might change. This may impact on their ability to provide devices and internet connectivity at home. This continual updating of information should become part of the Hybrid Learning Expectations and Guidance (above). 

An annual survey for ākonga and whānau may be a mechanism for updating information. The important thing is to have the information you need for times of hybrid learning and this will require questions that dig down to create a more detailed picture of the home context for remote teaching and learning. Simply discovering who has a device available at home isn’t very helpful without knowing if that device is internet-capable: if there is actually an internet connection available and, if so, its capacity and how many others in the household are needing to share the device (and make demands on the internet connection).

Information about the kinds of support students will have when they are learning at home, and the capability of that support is important, but needs to be carefully and sensitively collected. Asking how confident parents/whānau feel supporting their child’s learning may provide the information needed without requiring a comment on capability. Not requiring these questions to be answered in a survey, also gives parents/whānau the choice to opt out of answering if they are not comfortable doing so.

Check out this guide for further information: Using information to provide the right supports for remote learners

PLD to ensure teachers know the basics 

Pause and take a little time to ensure teachers have the basic knowledge they need to use the online platform and tools and to follow the guidance and expectations. Don’t give too much information initially – just enough – and provide additional support to those who are struggling. Ensure teachers keep using the tools and platform for their learning programmes so that the learning becomes embedded.

PLD hours available

Schools and kura can access Professional Learning & Support (PLD) for up to 25 PLD hours if they need help with hybrid teaching and/or teaching over 2022. The information on how to apply for this support is on the PLD website.

Provide simple guidance for ākonga/parents/whānau

Send out some simple guidance to parents and whānau about how to use the online platform to support their child’s learning. This is particularly important if using the platform hasn’t already been a normal part of the learning programme. Providing short (3 – 5 minute) accompanying videos will be helpful if possible.

Make sure you have learning progressions

Knowing where students are at in their learning, determining next learning steps, and designing learning to cause that learning to happen are just as important in hybrid learning as they are in traditional onsite learning. We call this personalisation of learning. Learning progressions are an essential support for providing the learning that students’ need and for ensuring continuity of learning. Continuity of learning is about more than just ensuring learning programmes continue for remote students, but is also about ensuring that students continue to receive learning experiences that support their learning progress. During the initial lockdowns, ākonga were often given busy work to do. Increasingly, schools have been looking at ways to support student progress. 

Most schools will have learning progressions for the core learning areas, but if you don’t, ask your colleagues from other schools to see what they are using and whether you can access their progressions. Don’t reinvent the wheel! There are plenty of good progressions available.You may have to tweak them to ensure they fit your learning approach.

Where might you start?

Checklist for getting started

Does our school have... Ticket if yes, write an action below if not.
A central online platform where we are putting all our learning resources, tasks, instructions etc.?  
A toolkit of online learning tools that are used consistently?  
Clear guidance and expectations for teachers for online and hybrid learning?  
Relevant information collected about ākonga?  
A PLD programme to ensure all teachers know the basics of using the platform and the tools we are using?  
Simple guidance for ākonga/parents/whānau to help them access learning?  
Learning progressions?  

Using the uncompleted actions from the checklist above, develop an action plan to prepare for getting started with
hybrid learning. Note: it is likely that you have already started hybrid learning but have identified some “getting started”
features that your approach would benefit from.

Further Information