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ISKU Blog - Hybrid learning is the requirement of new normal
ISKU Blog - Hybrid learning is the requirement of new normal
ISKU Blog - Hybrid learning is the requirement of new normal

Hybrid learning is a requirement of the new normal

August 17, 2020. Written by Tiina Malste.

All of a sudden last spring, mostly unwillingly and unprepared, we got caught up in the whirlpools of hybrid pedagogy, being in need to combine face-to-face instruction with online activities. One of the main challenges with our confronted new situation is the impossibility to plan these combined activities upfront in the current dynamic conditions. Many of our pedagogical experts and students are highly competent in the face-to-face component of the hybrid but less practiced with being physically apart from each other. Now, as returning back to school, our new learning environments mostly designed for the ideal of team-teaching and peer learning, are tested of being suitable for the COVID-19 requirements.

I recently discussed the teaching experiences of the Corona period with a good friend and fellow alumna of mine who has been a teacher for nearly 30 years. I heard about the successes and challenges with fifth graders during a two-month distance learning period, the implementation plan and tools of which were put into practice in one day. In particular, however, as a developer of modern learning environments, I was stopped by how my friend praised the conservative single desks with integrated compartments still in her class. They, while providing each student with their own structured workplace in a learning environment, minimize the need for any moving around.

There is an evident contradiction between the perfection of a modern opening learning environment built for positive social interaction, inclusion, and communal learning, and the rough reality of the new normal. Also, as a well learned routine in Finland, students are encouraged to move about during the lessons and learning environments are equipped accordingly. The instruction of keeping distance does not encourage us to do this. Certainly, there are no ready-made answers to smoothen the contradiction, but we are more than eager to hear experiences and new ideas in order to co-create even better solutions for learning environments of the new era.

We have traditionally wanted to have a contingency plan in case of technology failure. During the past spring season, we were speechless to follow how the traditional structures of teaching and learning failed and it was the technology that kept us going in organizing formal learning. These experiences are real food for thought as we further develop procedures and environments for hybrid learning.

About the author

Tiina Malste

Tiina is an experienced teacher, teacher educator, and education designer. Over her career, she has been involved extensively in developing new educational approaches to both Finnish and global schools and in contributing to the skill set of teachers and principals in collaboration with school communities and universities.

Currently at ISKU, Tiina is focusing on the pedagogical approach to the development, design and implementation of learning environments.