Across Australia’s education landscape, hybrid learning is transforming the traditional way of delivering subjects, and so far, it seems students are enthusiastically engaging in this new approach.
As schools continue to rethink how teaching and learning happens in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a marked focus on ‘starting over’, forgetting the traditional approach to the planning and preparation of material, and concentrating on the design of courses that foster student control over their learning.
This innovative approach was outlined in ‘Hybrid Learning - welcome to the new world order’, a presentation made by Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office (TCSO) Education Officers Paul Herbert and Joanna Holden at the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) National Conference 2022.
TCSO have been supporting the pilot delivery of Specialist Maths by the office to students at St Joseph’s School, Stanthorpe through a hybrid learning (the combination of online and face to face learning) model.
“The new Queensland Certificate of Education [QCE] system offers a range of senior subjects that are highly specialised. These subjects are difficult for staff and traditionally attract low cohorts but are vital if the Diocesan mission of academic success for all is to be met,” Herbert told The Educator.
“Specialist Maths is one such subject. An authentically rigorous subject that is difficult to staff and if not offered, would disadvantage a select group of students and detract from the academic life of their school. The program successfully provides these students access to an expert teacher highly skilled in the design and delivery of a Specialist Maths program."
Holden said that when it comes to keeping students engaged through hybrid learning rethinking course design for an online environment is key.
“Students interact with the course materials in the same way they use their devices outside of school – in a non-linear, exploratory way,” Holden told The Educator.
“Hybrid learning offers an authentically 21st Century experience, which reflects the way we learn outside of school [e.g. at TAFE, university, online microcredientials, etc] and reflects the way we work in the world today.”
Holden said the application and transformation of hybrid learning is reaping rewards for the staff and students alike.
“The teachers of tomorrow will have been emersed in hybrid learning their whole lives – bringing these experiences and skills back to the classroom for the students of tomorrow,” she said.
TCSO Executive Director: Catholic Schools, Dr Pat Coughlan, said the hybrid learning project is an example of the innovative practices happening within Toowoomba Catholic Schools.
“We are constantly striving to bring our mission to life. Academic success for all and making Jesus known are the two pillars of TCS,” Coughlan said.
“The hybrid learning project is an opportunity to ensure our schools cater for the learning needs of all our students no matter their location.”