Skill Refinement Through Hybrid Learning

There are benefits to having multiple platforms for learning for a student, so long as it is used to its potential and executed properly.

The technology enablement environment has created opportunities for both learners and instructors to use multiple teaching-learning methods. Hybrid learning involves a supple balance of online and offline methods that yield the most effective learning outcome and student experience even at an individual level. This is different from blended learning which uses a combination of online and physical classroom methods. To illustrate, as an instructor for a management course the hybrid learning pedagogy will use multiple methods to improve the participant’s analytical thinking capability. It can be done through a mix of the case method, online simulation and MS Excel. The medium of instruction can be online, offline or a combination of both.

Hybrid learning leads to certain skills that may be in addition to what is achieved by physical and blended learning. This is true at all levels of education be it primary and secondary school level, or graduate, postgraduate and professional courses. The first skill that a participant develops is interaction with multiple environments. He is exposed to physical, online &virtual environments along with operating at multiple screens. Working with different technology and physical environments increases his speed, familiarisation and Adaptability. One of the principal characteristics of the industry 4.0 technologies is ‘speed’. Cycle times for processes and decisions have reduced across domains and employers look for this skill in candidates. Because they are exposed to multiple environments while learning participants do not find it difficult to get acclimatised to a new environment and they can swiftly switch and adjust to them. Not only is multiple environments common to them, but they are also used to multitasking within one environment and also across. These candidates are much more productive in whatever work they do than compared to ones who can work in a single environment and specialised tasks only. 

Another competency imparted by Hybrid Learning is flexibility. As there is more than one method used to drive learning participants to start acknowledging the pros and cons of each and accept it. Given this nature of hybrid, learning participants become flexible to accepting more than one solution to the challenges present and arrive at a final solution which may carry plusses of different method i.e. the nature of the solution becomes hybrid. The communication capabilities of learners in hybrid learning include verbal, non-verbal and audiovisual techniques. While the former two were imparted in the physical classroom as well, the latter ones when included make the participant design communication that can hold the audience’s sensory mechanisms better. Any communication is first perceived by senses and then processed by the receiver. A tighter command over different senses holds the audience tighter to the message sent by the receiver.

With these benefits, there is a need to be cautious while using the hybrid learning method. Because of its nature that allows highly variable environments and tasks to be integrated there are chances of getting lost from the objective and get stuck in the method itself. The role of the instructor becomes important. The instructor is a facilitator to ultimately meet the learning objective and so he would have to help the learner start the journey and travel with care without de routing till the destination has arrived. Caution is also to be exercised to avoid any other distractions as within an online environment social media and such other options can distract the student without his own realisation. The design for hybrid learning online environments and implementation of it needs to accommodate this. Engagement is both a benefit and a difficulty when it comes to hybrid learning. Traditional methods of engagement do not work and the instructor is always challenged to develop new ones. Thus while hybrid learning can create a lot of positive impact on the skills imparted to the learners there is care needed to execute those. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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