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Education Leader Says Hybrid Learning Is Here to Stay

For Nathan Lang-Raad, there’s no going back to education’s “old normal” in the post–COVID-19 pandemic world. A noted author and Chief Education Officer at WeVideo, Lang-Raad will bring his views on the future of education to 4Front 2021. In a 4Front podcast, he discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic is helping to form a new lesson plan for education. 

Lang-Raad’s résumé includes stints as a K-12 chemistry teacher, school principal and school district coordinator of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. He also worked at NASA’s education office. He has become a champion of creativity and flexibility education, including recent trends toward hybrid in-person and remote learning that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Chief Education Officer at online video-editing technology provider WeVideo, Lang-Raad is working with educators to develop video-creation tools to enhance student learning. Those tools have taken on new focus during the pandemic, as students have shifted to Internet-centric, home-based learning. “I’m trying to figure out how we do education when we aren’t in class with them,” he says. “How do we keep students engaged? And that’s a difficult and challenging venture.”

This fall, some students have remained home-based while others are back in class. Schools and districts are grappling with the very challenging learning scenarios the pandemic has created. One of the most challenging environments teachers are being asked to teach in are concurrent or “hyflex” classrooms. The name suggests hybrid or a high-flexibility approach, but ironically it’s not as easy as the name connotes. In this environment, teachers are responsible for simultaneously teaching students in-person, in a brick and mortar classroom and remotely online. Lang-Raad acknowledges the extremely tough situation this is and also offer some support for teaching in a concurrent classroom using a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning structures. Attempting to explain a concept or model a math problem presents a challenge while doing both in-person and online. The online students feel disadvantaged while not being able to have equal access to the teacher. To ensure both in-person and online students receive equitable instruction, consider creating an instructional video that would be viewed by all students outside of the synchronous classroom setting. By creating an instructional video, you’re able to create equal opportunities for both in-person and online students to engage. Additionally, instructional videos work well if you’re doing a flipped classroom model. By recording the direct asynchronous instruction portion for students to watch prior to the synchronous meeting (online or in-person) teachers are better able to provide equitable experiences for students as they are all receiving the same content in the same manner. This also allows teachers to focus synchronous time (in-person or online), on SEL connection, application of concepts, creativity time and collaboration in small groups.

But looking further ahead, Lang-Raad believes that even when the pandemic lifts, education might not return to 100 percent traditional teaching and learning; it may become a hybrid mix of in-classroom and online sessions. In particular, he thinks asynchronous learning, where students access on-demand online coursework, can become a more effective part of the education picture.

A recent study involving university students supports that idea. In the study, 18 students were enrolled in a five-session course with options for in-person, synchronous live online and asynchronous on-demand online options. Prior to the course, the students said they favored in-person classes. But during the course, they used asynchronous online options more than expected. Eight of the 18 students (44 percent) participated in all five class sessions in asynchronous online mode, whereas only three of the 18 (17 percent) chose to attend all five classes in person. The remaining students chose a mix of in-person and on-demand sessions—and none of the students chose to attend live online classes.

Lang-Raad thinks that asynchronous learning gives students more choice about how they want to access learning—and that it will become part of the new education normal post-pandemic. “That’s the opportunity we have,” he says. “Even if we go back to a brick-and-mortar environment where we’re doing everything synchronous again, I think teachers will incorporate the best of the best lessons from the pandemic. If strategies worked really well asynchronously, they’ll continue to use those.”

Listen To Nathan's Podcast

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