Hybrid schools

The Harvard Education Letter (Vol. 27, March/April 2011) recently published an article on ‘Hybrid Schools for the iGeneration’.

These schools are springing up across the US, combining traditional face-to-face teaching with virtual learning, earning the nickname ‘bricks-and clicks’ for its blended methodology. Students spend an average of 50-70 percent of their time in front of computers (I hope other mobile devices as well).

Like the Khan Academy, students work through the curriculum at their own pace.  Their progression is tracked and feedback is given to both student and parents.  In theory, the hybrid school is the confluence of the physical and virtual learning space and gives students an opportunity for independent and self-directed learning as well as group projects.

One of the proclaimed benefits is that teachers working in Hybrids can spend more time with their students because they don’t need to plan curricula or manage classrooms.  Yet some educators are concerned that this model of schooling may not suit every learner especially those who aren’t self-motivated.

As these new models of schooling gather momentum, how do we ensure which innovations are pursued?  The highway to educational reform is littered with the wreckage of narrow attempts to change schooling.

I wonder whether we are lulled into a false sense of reform by the ‘bricks and clicks’ and the schools of the future?  For me, it’s not so much the model of schooling but the practice of teaching.  Innovation and improvement happens when we encourage a culture of evidence-based teaching and build the capacity of teachers.

2 thoughts on “Hybrid schools

  1. For the record, as a parent and educator, I am more in favour of ‘blended learning’ and the ‘bricks and clicks’ model as opposed to virtual learning. Social interaction, solely online, reduces the opportunities to develop face-to-face interactions and chance encounters but does not exclude them.

    I have also been interested to read about another educational Americanism – unschooling.


    Hopefully useful.

    1. It’s never an either/or proposition. It is about creating the best learning experiences – physical and virtual. Good teachers know what students needs and look for the opportunities, using the tools available. It means understanding the nature of the contemporary world and the new tools available. Teachers are active designers in learning frameworks that recognise this reality. Thanks for the link to the blog and unschooling.

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