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What does
a hybrid model
for schools
look like in
the long-term?

Author: Nick Reese

Like many innovations, the idea of a hybrid model for schools on a large scale was born out of necessity (though both remote and hybrid learning existed on a smaller scale previously). When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, schools around the world quickly shifted gears towards remote and hybrid education models to help do their part to control the spread. But as the world began to realize that the pandemic would be here for months, not weeks, school leaders had to figure out how to continue to provide learning in the long-term while keeping students and teachers safe.

As a result, full-time remote learning was initially organized quickly with whatever resources the schools had at hand. This experience was not quite ideal for teaching and learning, as schools did not have as many resources set aside for remote and hybrid education models. By the fall semester of 2020, many schools were able to develop a more sustainable hybrid education model, alongside remote learning models, allowing students to learn both at home and at school. This helped administrators stagger days for smaller class sizes with socially distanced spaces while enabling kids in quarantine to continue their education.

As of now, vaccines are largely available to teachers, staff and even younger learners. Most schools provide a variety of learning options for students, though they predominantly host full-time in-person learning. Does this mean the hybrid education model is a thing of the recent past?

The hybrid education model is here to stay

While most educators and parents wish to pursue full time in person education, many would like the option for remote, or hybrid model of learning for schools, where students can learn both in person and online.

In the short term, a hybrid education model gives institutions the nimbleness and flexibility they require to manage their pandemic response as communities still seek to hit the vaccination levels required for population immunity. In addition, a hybrid model for schools gives them the ability to continue to teach during sick days and weather events, such as snow days, preserving every possible day of scheduled education.

In the long term, a hybrid education model allows educators to blend in-person teaching, recorded lessons and live online sessions to provide a wider range of learning methods, so schools can tailor their education plans to each student's needs. As teachers, school districts and parents become more accustomed to incorporating a hybrid model for schools, it will create new opportunities for students to expand how, when, what and where they learn.

It will take time to adapt and refine the model

Keep in mind that a hybrid model for schools is still a relatively new concept; it's not the primary way new educators are taught to teach (though it is certainly a factor), and it's new to many experienced teachers who are used to traditional teaching methods. While the pandemic accelerated the transition to a hybrid education model out of necessity, the education world will still require new training, support and frameworks that may take a generation or more of new educators to establish before a hybrid model for schools becomes the norm.

In addition, the right tools and technologies will also be critical to the success of tomorrow's hybrid education model. Students must have Wi-Fi or even cellular-enabled tablets or laptops, so they can access education both in the school building and at home. Teachers also require powerful devices that allow them to manage students' needs in the classroom and in remote locations.

Underpinning all of this is the network required to provide fast, consistent internet access—no matter where students are. While access continues to improve, many homes still lack the connectivity required to make a hybrid model for schools feasible for all. According to Pew Research Center, only 72% of rural Americans and 79% of suburban Americans say they have a broadband internet connection at home.

With roughly a quarter of Americans lacking high-speed internet, a hybrid model for schools that works for all students is still difficult to achieve. 4G and 5G cell networks can help spread high-speed internet to more places, allowing students to access real-time online instruction even in areas without reliable wired internet.

Beyond ensuring all their students have capable devices and reliable internet access, schools must also ensure students and teachers have the right applications, with videoconferencing and on-demand video lessons forming the foundation of the hybrid education tech stack. The collaboration and content management platforms must be robust and intuitive enough to use for even the youngest of learners.

Making the hybrid model for schools a reality

Verizon is hard at work helping to make the hybrid education model a reality for schools around the country. It works side by side with education and technology experts to provide lesson plans and training so teachers can level up their skills and teach more effectively.

Discover how you can leverage education technology to incorporate the hybrid education model to support your school system’s needs.