The concept of hybrid learning is nothing new, but it is evolving all the time (cue global pandemic), especially as improvements to distance learning technology have helped to make remote and hybrid education a completely viable alternative to full-time in-person, classroom-style lessons and courses.

Hybrid learning is a type of blended learning that refers to implementing synchronous lessons that are taught simultaneously in-person and online. Hybrid teaching is great because it allows the children who need face-to-face instruction to receive that while those who desire a more flexible approach can receive that as well. It also allows for varying teaching strategies to be used with only a fraction of the challenge.

However, while hybrid teaching has unlocked the potential to shape the world of education, its reliance on modern technology can sometimes be seen as a drawback, especially when you there are so many options out there.

How do you know what technology is the best fit for your hybrid teaching set up? How can teachers deliver the best learning experience for students? Does the technology require a steep learning curve?

Hybrid teaching technology should work the way teachers work, not the other way around. It should also be able to meet the evolving needs of teachers and students. We’re taking a look at examples of essential technology to help make hybrid teaching easier and more successful.

Essential Technology for Hybrid Teaching

Whether this is in the physical classroom, or the student’s home space, there are many benefits of interactive technology in the classroom. These are the technologies you should have in order to enable successful hybrid learning. Also keep in mind, while you should have at least one or more, you don’t necessarily have to have every single technology if they are not accessible for you. You also don’t need to complete your hybrid teaching set up right off the bat, you can build it out over time as your budget or space allows.

Computers and Laptops

A desktop computer or a laptop is required for hybrid teaching and learning. Many modern classrooms can implement hybrid learning with just laptops. Though it is not ideal, it is possible. Computers are great because they are very versatile and powerful.

Computers are often used for notetaking, writing, and independent research. What is also great is that many laptops have built-in microphones and videoing technology. Some even have student packages that include Microsoft 365 or other software for student work. Computers are also great for connectivity between classmates and instructors.

Video Technology

Video technology is important for hybrid teaching because many modern teaching strategies focus on student-centered learning. A part of student-centered learning is student collaboration and active learning. If students cannot see each other, they will have a difficult time interacting. Also keep in mind, that hybrid learning is more than just simply recording a video, it is active and synchronous.

Many technologies have built-in video technology but you may want to consider purchasing a separate webcam for hybrid teaching. This way you can be sure you have clear quality so that all students can easily see each other and present work if collaborative and sharing software are not available. You can find webcams at all price points that range from basic to more advanced. For example, the Poly Studio USB video bar is an audio bar and webcam built into one easy-to-use tool, equipped with a smart camera that automatically frames the room or tracks the person speaking for deeper engagement.

Microphones and Audio Products

Microphones are another important element for hybrid learning. Many technologies will include a microphone option in their hardware, but sometimes they may not be high quality or they can pick up a lot of noise. An option to solving these issues is by purchasing an external microphone.

There are various options for good quality external microphones, ranging from less expensive to very expensive. The right microphone for your hybrid teaching set up depends on your budget, needs, and educational space. For example, it may be more beneficial for a distanced student to get a microphone with noise cancelling abilities than it would be to have one in the physical classroom.

Audio products for hybrid teaching should let teachers make use of their entire classroom, not be stuck at the front of the room. This makes it easier for them to engage with their in-person students without worrying about remote students missing out. Teachers should be able to move freely around their teaching space without worrying about hitting a dead zone or stepping out of audio range and remote students should be able to hear their in-person classmates with no issue, regardless of where they’re spaced in the classroom and if they’re speaking through a mask.

An example of such products is Nureva® audio which gives you true full-room coverage in one easy-to-use system. Nureva® audio uses patented Microphone Mist™ technology that fills a classroom with thousands of virtual microphones, so everyone can be heard, from everywhere.

Collaborative Software

Collaborative software is not a physical hardware, but it is something you should highly consider when creating a hybrid learning space. These can be free things like Google Classroom, all the way to advanced systems licensed by your school district.

Even more so, many interactive whiteboards and displays, like the ones you will learn about in the next section, have pre-installed software that you can use for your classroom. However, distanced students may not be able to access the software outside of classroom, so be aware and choose the best software setup for your students.

A great example of collaboration software that comes pre-installed for classroom use for the perfect hybrid teaching solution is the ViewSonic Viewboard complete with the myViewBoard collaboration software. myViewBoard Classroom allows teachers to easily engage with students who are present in class and those who are learning remotely, with options to switch between the two. Whether dragging Google Images, YouTube videos, and browsers onto the board or using any of the handy writing and drawing tools, multiple users can join in on team-based activities for increased student engagement. Teachers can import existing lessons and materials, and there’s even a teacher dashboard feature which enables the teacher to view student information and the chat, assign/manage student huddles for group work, monitor whether the student is currently viewing the lesson and whether students have requested speaking privileges to ask questions or share comments.

In Class Displays

Displays are more important for the physical classroom. This is because they are often more expensive, and most of the functionality will be used inside the classroom. There are three main types of displays you can consider.

Interactive Whiteboards is a catch-all term for any large-format display that also responds to real-time actions on its surface. Typically, these mimic whiteboarding functionalities like notetaking but also provide an interactive screen. Having at least one interactive whiteboard in the physical classroom is a great way for in-class students to share their notes or brainstorming with those who are distanced. Even better, if the distance students have the right technology, such as a touch-enabled laptop, they too can write and share on the board.

Projectors are commonplace in many classrooms, old or new. They have great functionality and often are affordable for many school districts. Projectors are normally used as simple displays as even the smartest of projectors require an outside device like a laptop. However, if you simply need a cheap way to help display distance students in the classroom, projectors are a great option and a must-have.

Wireless Presentation Displays are large-scale displays often used as commercial displays or as a front-of-the-room display in classrooms, boardrooms, and anywhere else they’re needed. Wireless presentation displays, or WPDs for short, are not touch-enabled, so they ideal for lecture-style lessons from either an in-person instructor or remotely, especially if the environment isn’t ideal for projectors. In many hybrid learning setups, large screens are prominently displayed to the teacher so that they address in-person and remote students simultaneously. Since this display doesn’t need touchscreen functions – but needs to be clearly visible in any lighting – well-placed WPDs are an excellent addition to the hybrid classroom.

Summing It All Up

There are many different options when it comes to hybrid learning technology with the ability to meet different space requirements and budget requirements all the while ensuring your hybrid teaching success. These technologies will help to make hybrid teaching easier and make hybrid learning more engaging, improving the overall hybrid experience for teachers and students alike.

Interested in learning more about hybrid learning, the most effective hybrid learning strategies, and how you can support your hybrid teaching methods with technology? Check out the recorded webinar: Take Hybrid Learning to the Next Level.

(From the editor: Portions of this blog were originally published on ViewSonic Library.)