Hybrid courses – a blend of traditional in-class and online courses – are far more common in the wake of a global pandemic, a more tech-savvy population, cutting costs, and the convenience factor. These are some of the advantages, but that is not to suggest hybrid courses have no downside.
Hybrid courses can be difficult for people who have little or no high-speed Internet access. In addition, the online components require discipline and the ability to work independently, and some students are surprised at the often less-structured online activities and tasks that they must keep track of and complete on their own initiative. Moreover, the online and offline content in language courses can be very different in terms of format (book vs. websites and/or downloadable files).
Traditional language courses have the advantage of easily presenting both offline and online content – all that is needed is sufficient technology (e.g. computer, projector, tablets, etc.) in the classroom. Group exercises and activities are much easier in person. Some online platforms offer “break-out” sessions, but these have to be led by multiple instructors or tutors.
The use of online content can occur in traditional, offline courses. In such a course, instructors or tutors can assign exercises, videos, and even worksheets online to expose students to different teaching approaches and perspectives. Interactive online content gives real-time feedback, which helps reinforce the material better than textbooks. Further, lengthier videos or texts can be viewed at each student’s individual pace while saving time for analysis and discussion in the classroom.
Hybrid courses tend to make extensive use of online content both during and after classes/lessons. Watching a video together and discussing it can be done online in real time with chat or at one’s leisure by discussion threads or posts. Another advantage of online content during an online session is that it is relatively easy to switch back and forth between different windows, documents, virtual whiteboard, etc., when sharing the instructor’s screen. Furthermore, typing up examples is usually much faster than using dry erase boards or chalkboards, and students can also post questions to chat before they forget them. This also allows people who may not speak up a lot in class to discretely get their questions answered and increase their motivation.
While much of this may seem intuitive, sometimes it is easy to get stuck in one mode of language learning and not fully utilize the tools available to you, both as a teacher or tutor and as a learner. At CORE Languages, online content – including our own – is used in our in-person and virtual courses, and clients have shared with us how much they appreciate the customized material we provide for them.
If you would like to share your thoughts or suggestions about what kinds of online content have worked for you, please add a comment below and be sure to follow our blog for more articles like this.
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