The future of education: in-person, hybrid, blended, or online?

Learning methodologies are taking leaps and bounds, and there is a wide range of options for students and teachers. Let’s see the four most used models with their lights and shadows.

Guadalupe Lareo
6 min read

The educational arena has been evolving at an almost supersonic speed. It's not breaking news that the pandemic had something to do with this, accelerating the inevitable. Nowadays, there are so many learning alternatives that it is perfectly normal to feel a little overwhelmed by all the options. After taking the first shock and a consequent deep breath, students and teachers can see this as what it can be: a golden opportunity.

 

In a nutshell (and for the sake of order), there are four main models to study: in-person, hybrid, blended, and online learning. But, who is the winner among them? I will let you choose at the end of the article.

 

In-person learning

A.k.a the traditional classroom. You know, the classic scenario with a blackboard and a teacher giving a lesson in front of a group of students. Yeah, super fun. Before the pandemic, most of us were used to this model, but let’s break it down to see how ideal it is.

 

Pros

 

  • Nothing can replace face-to-face communication: Let’s face it, sooner or later, we still crave human interaction, and the classroom can provide a perfect environment to exchange ideas with our peers.
  • The after-class: I’m talking about that corridor-chit chat where you talk about the weather or, I don’t know, your next assignment—these little moments provide random situations to get to know the people we work or study with.

 

Cons

 

  • Old school may not be the best school for everyone: The traditional classroom setting can be one of the least effective. As psychologist Benjamin Bloom said: “It makes no sense to expect all students to take the same amount of time to achieve the same objectives.”
  • Higher costs for fewer people: Institutions have to adjust to their physical capacity to offer in-person classes. Sadly, this can mean rejecting several excellent students or other academic proposals.

 

Hybrid learning

 

The best of both worlds. Hybrid learning is a model in which a group of students goes to the physical campus, and the other joins the class online. Teachers of hybrid education must be masters of multitasking, right? In some cases, the lectures can have some extra and asynchronous material on a virtual campus.

 

Pros

 

  • A class within everyone’s reach: This academic plan fits everyone’s preferences. Those who like the in-person model can happily go through their campus routines, while the other part who prefers or needs a remote option is just a click away from the lesson.
  • Reduced costs for more students: The sky's the limit! Colleges aren't restricted by their physical infrastructure. They can take as many students as the teachers can handle.

 

Cons

 

  • It can be a total mess: Unless it’s well-planned, this model can be like walking and chewing gum at the same time. A middle-of-the-road half-baked idea that ends up not being profitable for either side.
  • Problems connecting the halves: For hybrid courses to work, virtual and in-person students have to interact. Otherwise, a group can feel excluded and less committed to the class.

 

How can we help the tutors? Universities should provide a reliable platform for online participants. Believe me, dealing with technical problems can be like watching paint dry for everyone, especially the in-person alumni.

 

Blended learning

 

We have two mixed models in which there is an in-person class with some asynchronous material, and there is a world of difference between them. Blended learning mixes in-person and asynchronous lessons, but in this case, the group cannot be divided; they have to choose whether to go to the classroom or stay at home.

 

Pros

 

  • A friendly experience: Students and teachers can have the always loved one-to-one contact in a reasonable amount of time. Altogether, the asynchronous campus can provide a perfect learning environment that can fit all routines. 
  • Some reduced costs: Institutions won’t be saving a king’s ransom. But hey! It’s something. On top of that, there will be some days when academic installations won’t be required. Colleges can use that space for another lecture or even save some energy resources.

 

Cons

 

  • Geographically limited: Participants must live near the institution or have the means to go there. Blended learning can end up being just a bonus to the traditional classroom.

 

Remote learning

 

The rising star of the moment. I mean, hasn’t attended at least one online class during the pandemic? Remote learning also called e-learning and online learning is a type of education in which both learner and instructor connect to a platform and have the lesson. This almost futuristic model fits like a glove with our hectic lifestyle.

 

Pros

  • Super low-cost option: Universities don’t need to provide a fully-equipped classroom for the lecture, which implies a special mission: building an online learning platform to welcome their virtual students.
  • No walls, no problems: At the same time, as there are no physical limitations, the institution can accept as many students and as many academic proposals as it wants.
  • A culturally enriched environment: Geographic separation is no longer a problem. Online learning invites people all over the world to join your class. A diverse group of people comes with a diverse group of ideas.

 

Cons

 

  • A cold experience: Virtual life is less spontaneous, to say the least. Students and teachers only have contact during the classes. There are no corridors or random moments with the group.
  • The generational gap: Not all tutors and students are willing to take the digital step. Some of them are still attached to their blackboard. That’s ok; there can be a classroom for everyone!

 

And the winner is… none. After all, as the saying goes: “there are different strokes for different folks.” There is not a definitive answer when it comes to learning methodologies. Even though, in these current times, it’s necessary to have virtual and online options for all kinds of profiles.

 

As a software factory, at Awkbit, we believe that all virtual campuses can be taken to the next level to enhance the alumni community experience. Would you like our paths to cross?

Reach Out!

Sources & further reading