Many colleges and universities realize that they can add appeal to their offerings with distance learning tools, increasingly incorporating hybrid elements into their traditional offerings. Of course, online learning has always had some extra allure for adult, non-traditional students.
Still, when everyone switched to remote during the pandemic, many normally on-campus students felt that distance learning had less value than their in-person, on-campus experience. The key is to add value rather than subtract the connections of in-person education. And there are many ways to do that, giving colleges a new feature of the educational experience that they need to market to prospective students.
Making Learning Great with Hybrid Education
Flexibility has been the name of the game for colleges during the pandemic, with classes moving online, back onto campuses, yet still sometimes remote, and every mixture possible. The upside of this digital/in-person mayhem is that everyone has more experience with video conferencing and online teaching tools. The changing conditions during the pandemic have forced many professors to adapt their teaching, and when doing it on the fly, this has not always been entirely successful. However, using digital tools effectively as part of regular instruction will make institutions more resilient to adjust to natural or artificial disasters, disease outbreaks, and other disruptions.
One very effective way of offering hybrid learning is the HyFlex model. In this method, schools offer classes in three different ways at the same time: on-campus, synchronously online, and recorded for asynchronous study later. Professors expect synchronous remote students to participate in discussions as if they were in the room. The recorded sessions work for students who had to miss class entirely or want to review material that they found difficult the first time around. The trick to this model is that the technology and curriculum need to be in alignment and work smoothly, which is not as easy as it may look. Still, this type of learning is useful for many students: non-traditional students with families and work responsibilities, disabled students, students who are sick or quarantining, and even just ordinary on-campus students who want extra opportunities to work deeply with the material.
Mobile, Adaptive, and Personalized Learning
Just as your marketing can design personalized marketing using digital analytics and AI, instructors can personalize the learning itself. Many schools offering online education have already implemented these types of learning, which can use quizzes and other assessments to help fill student knowledge gaps or accelerate through sections students already know. Customized learning can be beneficial for adult learners who may have very uneven knowledge in a subject yet don’t want to waste their time on information they have acquired in their lives. But learning tools that adapt to the level of the learner can be used in all types of settings to match instruction more closely to what a student has most trouble learning.
With personalization should also come convenience, and one trend that is hitting all education institutions is the use of mobile devices in learning. In an Educause poll of college students, more than 50% reported using their mobile phones as a secondary learning device. Mobile-friendly course delivery dramatically enhances the ability to access learning wherever and whenever.
The Features of Hybrid Learning That Appeal to Students
Students have complex lives and often need or desire flexibility and personalization in their learning. Adding hybrid elements to every class makes sense. Different learning styles, schedule constraints, and health concerns can make it better for students to choose the learning format that will work best for them. As your school invests in more digital learning components, you need to promote these elements as features that can enhance learning and add value to the experience.
There is a constructive way of thinking about the value embodied in digital learning arising out of research done by McKinsey & Company. First, you can break down the successful elements of programs into three basic categories: seamless journey, engaging teaching approach, and a caring network. Then, you can further split these features into a clear educational roadmap, seamless connections, a range of learning formats, a captivating experience, adaptive learning, real-world skills application, timely support, and a strong community. When educators use digital tools to enhance these qualities for hybrid scenarios, they can help schools deliver even better education through the thoughtful integration of technology in all course offerings.
Digital Transformation in Higher Education
Mobile-friendly course delivery greatly enhances the ability to access learning wherever and whenever. Figuring out how your institution uses technological tools to improve education can help you find the features to market this experience to prospective students. Enrollment departments are constantly working with academic and student life divisions of institutions, but now is a time to become more intimately involved to understand how to promote evolving learning technology use as a more flexible and personalized education experience.
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