Hybrid Learning: A New Challenge in 2021

by Averil Bauer-Kong

In 2020, media and day-to-day conversation was dominated by a common theme- the lifestyle adjustment to at-home isolation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the major adjustments for parents, teachers, and students globally was the transition to an online learning environment, affecting both grade schools and universities. Now, as we are more than halfway through 2021, Covid restrictions are slowly being relaxed to varying extents around the world and full lockdown fading into a faraway memory. As parts of life return to a pre-covid normalcy, it seems not much acknowledgment is given to the challenges of adapting to ever-changing restrictions whilst transitioning out of a global pandemic.

As someone who struggles with online learning, I am incredibly grateful to have a portion of in-person learning in my Honours year, especially given the focus on learning practical skills in the laboratory. I have sensed an unspoken pressure however, that is induced by the hybrid learning model. I find myself completing my lectures in what should be my free time because I feel a lesser obligation to complete asynchronous online lectures in a given time frame, than in-person, or synchronous online lectures. I acknowledge that this is in part due to a weakness of my time management skills, but it is also a weakness of the online learning system. A pre-recorded lecture cannot replace the engagement that a live lecture demands, especially when the group is less than 10 people like our lessons.

In addition to the challenges of hybrid learning, the ever-changing lockdown state of the country creates added complications. Not only is it incredibly frustrating, but can also be anxiety-inducing, to students and lecturers alike when new restrictions imposed on a Sunday evening impacts your schedule for the upcoming week. It is a tough balance to strike between providing the most enriched experience that in-person learning allows and being cautious and consistent with online learning

Most importantly, it is important to remember that this type of hybrid lifestyle is uncharted territory, and everybody is learning how best to navigate the changes. The Honours year is a substantial shift from undergraduate, despite a global pandemic, so try your best, but most importantly, be kind to yourself.

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