Tech Talk Live Blog

Technology Infrastructure Needed for Hybrid Learning in the Classroom

Colette Cairns

The Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Institute began in the 2012-2013 school year.  Fourteen schools in eastern Pennsylvania launched the Pennsylvania Hybrid Model.  Currently, there are over thirty-four schools transforming their schools to implement the Hybrid Learning Model in their school systems.  “The mission of the Pennsylvania Hybrid Initiative is to improve student achievement in Pennsylvania by providing teachers with smaller, more manageable student group sizes to deliver personalized, focused instruction to students using real-time data.” (Dellicker Strategies, LLC.)

Hybrid learning is a blended classroom model that uses data from various online content providers to drive classroom instruction.  Students rotate between three stations during the class period.  The stations consist of a direct station, an independent station, and a collaborative station.

The independent station gives each student an opportunity to receive engaging digital content.  The online content provides instruction, remediation, and extension activities for different learning styles and abilities.  Comprehensive reports and data are provided in order to assess student progress, giving teachers the opportunity to differentiate instruction for their students.

The direct station provides students time to work with their teacher in a small group setting.  Teachers can adapt the daily lesson, differentiating instruction based on progress reports and assessments provided by the digital content.  Teachers can remediate, teach, or extend a student’s knowledge during this rotation.

The collaborative station offers students the challenge of working with a small group of their peers. Each group is assigned a task that requires an extended period of time and answers a driving question related to a real-world event.  Students need to research, collect data, evaluate information, and justify their explanation by presenting their findings to an audience.   The collaborative station reinforces teamwork, problem solving, and critical thinking.

Districts need to be prepared to think about technology infrastructure when implementing the hybrid-learning model. From my experience over the past year, there are a few important items that, when considered, create a more successful implementation process:

  • Appropriate bandwidth and Wi Fi in classrooms—Recommended 100 Mbps per 1,000 users
  • Dedicated technicians to support hybrid classrooms
  • Laptop carts for each classroom
  • Up-to-date software (i.e. updated plugins, browsers, Java, Flash, Shockwave, etc.)
  • Single Sign on Username/Passwords for all content providers
  • Extra laptop bricks so students have the ability to charge computers when removed from the computer cart
  • Additional electrical outlets
  • Appropriate wiring to handle multiple electronic devices, carts, etc.
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Internet filtering system tests to make sure all content providers used are not blocked for the students

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Initiative Website.

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