#25 – Learning to Embrace the Hybrid Model of Instruction During Distance Learning

Unpacking Education February 3, 2021 22 mins

Let’s unpack hybrid learning to identify strategies that can best be used during distance learning. In a hybrid model, students learn some lessons during face-to-face classroom instruction and other lessons virtually, away from the physical classroom. The intention behind effective use of the hybrid model is to provide students with some control over the pace, place, path, and time of their learning, while implementing the best of both in-person and remote digital-learning strategies. In the face of COVID-19 restrictions, many school districts have turned to the hybrid model as a way to improve school safety and make physical distancing more attainable.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they address opportunities that are available via hybrid learning, such as taking advantage of both the independence for students that comes with distance learning and the personalization possible when both teachers and students are in the classroom.

Below, you will find resources and tips shared during the podcast.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

We are building a house with no blueprint one brick at a time hoping the foundation will hold. To quote a student, ‘I am excited and nervous and maybe even scared but hopeful.’ #hybridlearning

Tweet from Dylan Huisken, 2019 MT Teacher of the Year


In this week’s episode, we discuss the following strategies and resources that are available on AVID Open Access for you to explore in more depth.

Implement the Best of Both Worlds

There is no single right way to implement hybrid learning, and teachers continue to experiment with different ways to structure schedules and find new, creative ways to leverage the advantages of both face-to-face and virtual learning.

Make the Most of Your Remote-Learning Days

The ability to schedule remote-learning days is what separates the hybrid model from other forms of blended learning. Because of that, the most successful hybrid models are typically the ones that take full advantage of these remote-learning days. Remote days offer an excellent opportunity to facilitate interventions and support students at a much more individualized level. The following are a few ways that teachers have effectively used this asynchronous, remote-learning time:

  • Schedule progress checks: Conduct progress check-ins with students on a rotating basis. This can be a general check-in, or it can be aligned to ongoing project work. You can even make a check-in one of the required steps in the process before students can move on with further work on the project. One-on-one writing conferences are another popular application of this approach.
  • Meet with student teams: If students are working in groups, they may be allowed to meet in flex areas during remote days, but you can also call them into your open classroom for a status check. You could create a schedule so that all teams must check in over a specified time period.
  • Conduct individual assessments: With this strategy, you call in students one at a time to conduct individual performance-based assessments. This also gives you the chance to check in individually with each student and offer personalized feedback.

Make the Most of Your In-Class Days

Ask yourself what learning experiences are best completed face-to-face. While some lessons are easily flipped to remote days (especially basic knowledge-level content), some learning can benefit more from your in-person guidance. The following list is not intended to be comprehensive, but it can help guide you in deciding how to best use your in-class learning days:

  • Teach the technology: By teaching the technology skills in class, you will be empowering your students to be more successful during remote days. This is a great scaffolding technique for tech skills. Students learn it in class and apply/practice it at home. During the next in-class day, you can answer questions, troubleshoot, and set students up for even more success the next day.
  • Build relationships: You can definitely facilitate relationship-building in an online environment, but it may be more easily done face-to-face. Use your in-class days (especially early on) to develop a class community, so students trust both you and each other. This foundation can help you stay connected even during remote days.
  • Facilitate collaboration: Most students are social, and many come to school specifically to interact with their friends and classmates. Collaboration is also an essential academic and life skill. Therefore, try to build in some form of collaboration during each face-to-face day. This is much easier to do in person than it is online.
  • Conduct labs and experiential learning: You can have students do this remotely, but some students may not have access to materials or quality learning spaces. Therefore, in-class time is ideal for labs and experiential learning. The in-class environment also allows you to have students work in pairs and teams to enrich the learning.
  • Provide opportunities for performances and group projects: Group projects can be facilitated remotely, especially if students can gather in flexible learning spaces within the school, and performances can be recorded and shared virtually. However, these highly interactive learning experiences can benefit from a face-to-face learning environment. If the groundwork is laid here, students can divide and conquer group tasks during more independent remote-learning days.

Apply Hybrid Concepts to Remote Learning

If your school has implemented a fully remote-learning model, you can still apply the concepts of hybrid learning. To do so, think of a live video class session as your in-person or face-to-face class period. Then, apply the same scheduling options that are available to you in hybrid learning.

As with traditional hybrid-learning models, fully remote teachers can use hybrid-learning concepts to work with smaller groups of students at a time. Even though the in-person sessions are conducted through videoconferencing software, the end result is the same. Because of the smaller groups, you will be able to better differentiate, meet individual student needs, provide personalized instruction and feedback, and get to know your students. You will also be able to give your students a greater voice in the virtual space.