St Mary’s delivers hybrid learning
Like all schools across the country, St Mary’s had to make changes and adapt quickly when the world went into lockdown in March 2020. Teachers worked hard to swiftly adapt their teaching methods and successfully delivered classes online to enable students to continue learning with minimal disruption.
The school has now reopened and resumed face-to-face classes, but the international situation we face has meant that not all students have been able to return to school. Our digital provision puts the school in an advantageous situation should further lockdown measures be introduced because the students will benefit from a seamless transition back to online teaching should the need arise. The model that St Mary’s is currently using - hybrid learning - has been adopted by schools worldwide, and means that we are able to maintain our education and support of students regardless of the situation we find ourselves in.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is a combination of in-person and online instruction where students interact with the instructor, the material and other students through both a physical classroom as well as an online platform. This provides students with an interactive environment and a cohesive learning experience across two mediums. A study completed by the Center for Digital Education found that 73 percent of educators who utilise a blended learning instruction model observed an increase in student engagement.
What is hybrid learning?
With hybrid learning, online interactions replace much of the physical communication between students and instructors. This does not mean that remote students are just watching an online lecture. Live classrooms incorporate interactive, virtual components to keep students engaged, real time support from staff and the opportunity for students online to be an active part of classroom.
What’s the difference between hybrid and blended learning?
Hybrid and blended learning seem like the same concept, and the terms can be used interchangeably. However, there is a small but important distinction. While blended learning focuses on the combination of offline and online instruction, hybrid learning seeks to find a balance that promotes the best experience for individual students.
What are the benefits of online learning?
Both hybrid and blended learning revolve around online interactions. Instead of simply watching a lecture or lesson, they combine sophisticated virtual tools to add engagement and interactivity to the experience.
The benefits of online learning include:
• Maintaining one-on-one and group interactions between instructors and students.
• Interactive learning helps students to experiment, grasp and retain new concepts as opposed to just watching or reading when they are not able to join a lesson in person.
• Flexibility. Students are able to keep learning and keep up with assignments should they need to individually quarantine.
• Accessibility and convenience. Online learning environments are accessible from any device with an internet connection regardless of geographic location. This removes a lot of barriers and limitations when it comes to traditional classroom learning.
A connected school
At St Mary’s, the whole school works through the digital platform Microsoft 365 where we have created our own internal platform known as by St Mary's Cloud. For the last 3 years, all students have been able to access their schoolwork on any device, wherever they are putting us in an excellent position to be flexible without compromising educational quality. Aside from improving efficiency and organisation when completing schoolwork, it gives them the important experience of working in a digital environment which is more akin to what they will face in the workplace once they leave the school.
Online learning is the learning style of the future
As we continue to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in every aspect of our life in the wake of Covid-19, it’s clear that some form of online learning is likely to feature permanently. The convenience and peace of mind that it offers is a great benefit for everyone: teachers, students and parents alike. At St Mary’s, we’ve embraced this wholeheartedly.
Head of Sixth Form