A reflection: the hybrid education model of the 2030′

The educational system has undergone a series of profound changes over the last decade. The Covid-19 pandemic ten years ago forced many teaching institutions to quickly adopt alternative online methods that have further evolved in the meantime. With changes on different levels of society, the online/offline education dilemma and  the trend of social individualisation have been impetuously debated over the years. With the year coming to its end, it’s time to reflect. 

We are all familiar with online education nowadays. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago, children had to go to school or university every day for at least six hours. Physical seminars are still an integral part of a student’s life, but only a few hours a week. As physical classes are complemented with online education platforms, students enjoy more balance and flexibility with different forms of teaching nowadays.

The traditional “offline” educational system is, at its root, a form of human interaction: a qualified teacher transmits knowledge to students. A place for meeting and exchange brings them together: the school. Its purpose developed not only for students to acquire knowledge in accredited subjects, but also to develop social skills and a sense of time management. In developed countries, the transition to digital educational platforms has been rapid and more or less effective. It seemed a very easy endeavour, as the strict knowledge transfer still took place. There were, however, hidden traps as for example that digital education maintained only a surrogate-link between teachers and students. “Surrogate”, because 50 percent of the information transmitted through non-verbal communication was lost, hence the initially stronger tendency of individualisation amongst students both young and old alike. 

If we compare our schooling model of today with the 2010s or 2020s, we can clearly state that as parents we have more choice. As physical presence is no longer mandatory, we are not bound to send our children to the school nearby. This gives us more flexibility and choice, also because we can choose ourselves, where and how our children are taught. The recent development of an “à la carte” and rather Netflix-like education with more competition increased the quality of the courses on offer but also questions if soon quantity and profit will replace quality and universality of education. In general, the lack of physical and social links with other children inevitably also has an impact on our kids’ personal development. Do we therefore not all sometimes secretly wish for the good old days where the responsibility of judgement and decision-taking was not with us, the parents? 

At this point in the 2030s, the hybrid model of online/offline education appears to be a promising form of learning, because it allows students to make use of the best of both worlds. Over the last decade, humanity has come closer than ever to its goal of every child being able to read. The majority of universities have developed sponsoring programs, which target students in need of support, financial or of another nature, with the transition to the hybrid model of education. We also notice that online teaching can create more equality by providing access to education to children who are far away from their school, whose teaching facility is closed due to health reasons, conflicts or lack of infrastructure. This promise of an inclusive online/offline education for everybody has to be taken seriously when addressing countries and regions that have less means and knowledge to assure that every child is granted access to this system. The structured development of the hybrid program led to a symbiosis between the two forms of teaching: the essential offline form was completed by its online avatar in such a way that it facilitated learning and thorough study as well as increased motivation in students.

The desire to overcome all the challenges posed to our society in the last decade has brought students and teachers together in such a way that the whole learning- and teaching-world has virtually been updated. The tendency towards individualisation is now supported through the online, more student-personalized model of education. With the individualized learning content, the students share their overall learning goals, but are able to make progress at their own pace. The symbiotic model of education helped teachers – who are still the driving force in the classroom – in the task of adjusting the learning material and the learning pace to better suit the individual needs of every student. But it especially also helped us as parents, as we are able to adapt our children’s schooling system to their needs – and ours. When we focus on increasing equality and inclusivity, parents and children – and therefore societies – around the world can benefit from our hybrid educational system.

Photo by Mohammad Shahhosseini on Unsplash