Engaging Students in a Hybrid Learning Environment

68 percent [of students], indicated they would be interested in taking courses offering a combination of in-person and online instruction.

Within the last year, the emergence of hybrid learning has become increasingly more important for colleges and universities to adopt. There has been an increased desire by educational stakeholders to implement a multifaceted learning environment for students. Due to these new blended learning preferences, many institutions are now allowing students to access their learning both remotely and in person. Though many great strides have been made to make this model accessible for students, this framework can pose concerns and challenges to many instructors at the higher education level. 

What's the issue at hand?

Across the web, you may see several sources outlining the benefits of hybrid learning including increases in collaborative learning, quality of faculty-to-student interactions, and the ability for students to be able to better facilitate their learning. The real question is how do instructors manage to effectively teach and cater to both the online and in-person aspects of hybrid learning? We have outlined the most beneficial practices instructors can adopt to ensure the most successful blended learning environment for students to excel.

Flexible Learning Environments

The objective of hybrid learning varies across different disciplines, courses, and instructors which is why it should be embraced as a flexible approach to teaching. This approach should be used in a way that complements existing learning in order to achieve the most desirable course outcomes and engagement rates. 

A learning guide published by Ryerson University, states that there are several aspects of creating a flexible learning environment including:

  • Flexible teaching 
  • Flexible learning methods
  • Flexible content
  • Flexible access

They have found that a flexible learning environment includes a blend of what an individual learner needs and the requirements of a subject. Within the progression of learning, the content should reflect both of these two aspects (Schwartz, et al., 2019). A great way to achieve this is by breaking down course material into modules so students can easily take what they need to understand the content. The accessibility of being able to choose which learning format works best for your students is also a huge factor to consider when developing a flexible learning space. Each student may choose a different combination as seen in the survey published by The Digital Learning Pulse by Cengage where they found that,

“68 percent [of students], indicated they would be interested in taking courses offering a combination of in-person and online instruction” (McKenzie, 2021).

See the breakdown of the results of the survey here:


With Kritik’s unique versatility, our experienced instructional designers can help guide instructors through the process of creating a blended learning environment that strengthens student learning, while creating a smooth teaching format for your curriculum. 

Apply real-world context to motivate and engage students

Integrating relevant skills within your course content that will bring your students success in and beyond the classroom can be essential in stimulating student engagement. You want to promote these teachable skills to students so that they understand that what they’re learning can also benefit them in their futures.

As an instructor with a hybrid learning environment, you can outline the skills students will need to develop for their future careers and how exactly your assignments will help them achieve them. For example, Kritik promotes the development of critical thinking. In a survey done in 2018 by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, they found that, 99.2% of employers find that critical thinking skills are essential for students to develop before they graduate (National Association of Colleges and Employers). When introducing the use of Kritik in the classroom, not only should you describe the benefits of course learning but you should highlight the other skills students will gain from being able to practice meaningful evaluations. By connecting your course material with real-world skill development, students will see the value within their learning and motivate themselves to succeed. 

Encourage inquiry and exploration within activities

A recent Deloitte report, states that

Nearly 80 percent of undergraduate students said their online courses lacked the engagement of in-person classes (Selingo, et al., n.d.).

Fostering an engaging environment not only increases participation rates but can also trigger self-sufficient motivation among students. With Kritik, students are able to explore and inquire about several different aspects within one single assignment. The ability to have your work evaluated by several students while exploring your peers’ work within the classroom strengthens a deeper level of engagement beyond the traditional classroom. The traditional approach of submitting an assignment to one set of eyes only allows students to experience a one-way approach to learning, rather than encountering several different levels of evaluation and feedback. The integration of online platforms like Kritik, allows instructors to build an integrative blend of both in-person and online learning.

Conclusion

As we shift back to in-person learning, more and more institutions have discovered an increased desire for a hybrid learning environment. Now more than ever institutions are looking for effective ways to engage their students through this format and to find the ability to create an environment where both students and instructors can effectively communicate with their fellow peers. Kritik provides opportunities for this new educational landscape by ensuring flexible learning environments, promotion of the real-world application of skills, and encourages student exploration all while promoting student engagement. The practice of offering a diversified learning format can reinforce learning concepts and engage students in their new hybrid learning environment.

Learn how to set up your hybrid learning environment to encourage student engagement today by scheduling a demo with Kritik.

Adam Stone Adam Stone writes on technology trends from Annapolis, M. (2021, June 15). Making Hybrid Learning Happen in Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2021/05/making-hybrid-learning-happen-higher-ed

Blended Learning. (2021, April 07). Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/support/blended-learning

Imagining the Hybrid College Campus. (2021, October 08). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2021/10/imagining-the-hybrid-college-campus

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND EMPLOYERS. (2020). Spring 2020 NACE Job Outlook. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/file/53704991/Spring-2020-NACE-Job-Outlookpdf/. 

Selingo, J., Clark, C., Noone, D., & Wittmayer, A. (n.d.). The hybrid campus - deloitte. Retrieved February 17, 2022, from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/articles/6756_CGI-Higher-ed-COVID/DI_CGI-Higher-ed-COVID.pdf 

Survey reveals positive outlook on online instruction post-pandemic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2021/04/27/survey-reveals-positive-outlook-online-instruction-post-pandemic 


Emily Masters
Education Researcher

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