Hybrid Learning In The New Normal: How Universities Need To Gear Up?

The pandemic has changed the face of international education, with distance learning becoming a norm. Considering that social distancing is here to stay, learning institutions cannot expect to open their doors to students as usual. But hope’s not lost as learning has happened even during the toughest time and things are likely to look up in the coming time. As the world recovers from the initial shock, it is clear that the only way the education industry can stay on track is by embracing the hybrid model.

Although the challenge will probably be a tad greater for universities catering to international students, they are all set to show their resilience and come back with a bang. For this, they would require complex infrastructure to impart education through blended techniques. In this context, it becomes vital to explore ways these institutions can gear up for the future, where learning will be a mix of in-person and online sessions.

Fortunately, the stage is already set. Academic institutions across the globe are currently using Online Campus, primarily not just to impart continuous learning to the students but also for quickly and easily adding new online courses to their catalogues to attract students. Further, they are leveraging digital to support faculty with the requisite resources and training them to teach optimally online.

With a majority of HEIs in the US and the UK planning to take the blended model ahead through 2021 and beyond, they will have to be ready with the right solutions in place. Fortunately, the faculty and students are already accustomed to apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype and Webex, which gives them a head start with the adoption of remote teaching and learning as a long-term arrangement.

The good thing is that they have plenty of time to improve for becoming future-ready. This interim period (Fall of calendar 2020 to the next academic year) is going to be pivotal, as universities will have to work on creating better online experiences with techniques specifically designed for better learner experiences and outcomes.

Some elements they can integrate into the current systems are active learning with short videos, peer learning, self-paced learning, mastery learning, gamification and virtual labs, instant feedback, and spaced repetition. Asynchronous teaching is going to be another must-have for HEIs to ensure that international students abroad need not stress out about the prospect of attending classes in the middle of the night due to time-zone differences.

Hopefully, HEIs will have more online content and robust tech infrastructures in place by Spring 2021, but there are good chances that they would gravitate back towards in-person teaching. However, there is hardly a possibility that they would be able to zero online in the coming years. Logically speaking, they can expect to see a fair amount of learning on campuses and online teaching together, depending on the prevailing situations.

Within the next few years, most universities are likely to have roughly 40-50% of online activities co-existing with in-person reaching, which is going to be in the ‘new normal’ in international education. After all, that’s probably the only and the best way to shine via continuous learning in the face of future disruptions.

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