In an effort to keep our community informed, we’ve been studying all the emerging design solutions being considered for a safe return to school. Although information on Covid-19 is rapidly evolving, one concept is emerging as a main solution going forward: the "Hybrid Classroom”. We spoke to experts to gain insight on why hybrid classrooms may be the solution for safe school reopening and how you can transform your school in time for fall.
What is a Hybrid Classroom?
It’s actually very simple. The "hybrid" or "blended" classroom combines live classroom teaching with distance learning. In a hybrid classroom some students are physically present in the classroom while the others are in a classroom next door or following the lesson from home. The combination of remote teaching software such as the i3LEARNHUB, an interactive display like the i3TOUCH, and a simple webcam can turn any classroom into a hybrid classroom.
Why Hybrid Classrooms May Be Necessary in 2020 and Beyond
Guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Association of Pediatrics suggest measures that schools must take to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 when they reopen. These measures include reduced class sizes and online learning environments.
Dr. Lindsey Leininger, a health researcher and a professor at Dartmouth University, thinks that the trajectory of Covid-19 will either occur as a second peak of cases in the United States around late fall, or alternatively, undulating small waves of new cases until a vaccine is available. In either scenario, schools will need to take precautions to protect faculty and students, as well as the community at large. She thinks that necessary changes taking place at schools this year will include the creation of impromptu classrooms, as well as physical social-distancing measures to help keep students apart.
How Does a Hybrid Classroom Work?
It won’t be easy for schools to adapt to smaller class sizes and social distancing without several adjustments, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Steve Hulsey is the education sector leader and president of Corgan, an architecture and design firm. He says that isolation groups in schools might be an effective way to both reduce the spread of Covid-19 in schools and identify when someone is sick, which may prevent entire schools from shutting down. These isolation groups are called “cohorts”.
This would limit the amount of contact that students have with large groups but still allow them to be present in school. Interactive technology could be used to connect students to their specialty teachers via Zoom or i3LEARNHUB, while they remain in their cohorts. This limits the spread of the virus, makes for more manageable cleanup, and allows kids to still be in school daily while taking advantage of technology in a group setting.
What does a hybrid classroom look like?
The actual classroom setup depends on the number of students in class. CDC guidelines recommend for students to be seated six feet apart which will reduce classroom size considerably. For all students to follow the lesson at the same time, this may mean moving some students to another classroom or to an improvised classroom space.
Three basic things will be needed to keep all students connected to the same lesson:
- Remote-learning software: Our preferred pick is i3LEARNHUB which comibines the lesson creating tools of Powerpoint, the integrated video-conferencing capabilities of Zoom, and is compatible with Google Classrooms.
- Interactive Displays like the i3TOUCH or Interactive Projection Whiteboard like the i3BOARD for the teacher to digitally take notes on the whiteboard app and be able to share the notes at the end of the session.
- Webcam: it is important for both, the students to be able to see the teacher’s face and for the teacher to see the kids to establish a personal connection and to notice nonverbal cues.
Setting up your hybrid classroom with lightweight, mobile, and easy-to-disinfect furniture will create an environment that limits the spread of the virus and keeps students comfortable and engaged while in the classroom.
- Opti+ Move Desk This lightweight workstation can be used for tiered seating, enhancing a sense of space in classrooms while letting each student have visual access.
- Mobile Teacher’s Workstation Educators can easily store and organize materials while staying mobile with this stylish, customizable desk. Laminate tops mean easier cleanup and caster mounting allow teachers to distance themselves when necessary.
- Essentials Clear Mobile Divider Recently added to our family of mobile dividers, this clear plastic panel creates spaces that are protected yet still maintain visibility. Ideal for use between students in class, they provide barriers without minimizing space and still allow students to socialize.
Both Steve Hulsey and Dr. Leininger agree that although the path forward will require changes, it is possible. Hulsey says that many virtual rooms and think tanks throughout the nation are filled with those trying to present solutions and help keep students and teachers safe and on track. MooreCo is no exception. We are working hard to provide tools that will assist schools as they make these decisions for how to be ready to reopen safely. We are with you in this complicated journey and will assist you every step of the way.
Contact us to turn your existing classroom into a Hybrid Classroom. We offer personalized consultations on how to best adapt your existing classroom into a COVID conscious learning space. Don't have an i3LEARNHUB account yet? Go to www.i3learnhub.com and create a free account now.