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The Benefits of Hybrid Learning

It still takes a village to raise kids. It doesn’t need to be in your backyard.

Key points

  • An upside to the pandemic is that we’re actively exploring how to maintain relationships and connections at home and at work in a hybrid form.
  • Pandemic-era research has found that remote learning's greater flexibility in scheduling and methodology responds to the needs of more learners.
  • Remote learning also holds the potential to diversify the pool of educators and tutors with whom our children interact.

Raising kids in a village is easier. If I had any doubt before the pandemic, six months in, it was clear that I was not meant to raise, educate, entertain, and exercise my kids without the support of an entire village.

The pandemic helped many of us see in living color why it takes a village to raise a child. It also helped many of us see what we had taken for granted pre-pandemic, including much of what happens in schools.

While we know and have evidence that it takes a village, does the village need to be in your backyard, or can it be located anywhere?

Expanding the Tent to Live and Learn More Effectively and Inclusively

In one 2020 study, based on a survey of more than 600 parents, researchers found that flexibility was among the most valuable outcomes of remote learning. Interestingly, it wasn’t just flexibility in scheduling that was cited as a benefit. Flexibility in the learning method was also cited as a key benefit of remote learning, suggesting that remote learning might be more convenient and accommodate a wider range of learners and learning styles. The benefits, however, aren’t restricted to flexibility.

Finding and retaining people to support your children as they explore what may feel like a dizzying array of different pastimes, passions, and hobbies is an ongoing challenge for parents. After all, how do you find a great singing coach, painting instructor, math tutor, and Spanish conversation partner within walking distance of your home?

Despite living in Cambridge, a city with phenomenally rich resources and some of the most brilliant talents in the world, pre-pandemic, I often scrambled to find the right people to support my children’s shifting needs and interests. During the pandemic, we were forced to expand our tent, letting in supporting teachers and tutors from many locations.

As a result, our kids, who are now back in school but continue to do many extra-curricular lessons online, are learning more, exploring a wider range of topics, and in some cases doing this with people they would have otherwise never encountered.

Striking a Balance Between Remote and In-Person Activities

Despite having been a huge advocate of remote work long before the pandemic (my team and I have always worked remotely, and much of my client work has always been remote, too), back in March 2020, I would have never predicted writing this article. At the time, I was still struggling to conceptualize how remote school and lessons could ever work.

Over two years later, my perspective has radically shifted precisely because I’ve seen the benefits of living and learning in a hybrid world. But this raises a question: If the village it takes to raise a child is now hybrid, like many of our workplaces, how do you decide what to do in-person and remotely?

To begin, ask yourself three key questions:

  • What is gained by bringing in remote support at home (e.g., greater flexibility in scheduling, reduced travel time, reduced cost, greater diversity in tutors and mentors)?
  • What might you be giving up or compromising on when you rely on remote forms of support (e.g., the diminished impact of learning or reduced likelihood of your child creating an authentic connection)?
  • What is the right balance between in-person and remote forms of support for your child and your family?

Expanding the Tent at Home and Work

We need to be in relationships and connections with others. One of the few upsides to the pandemic is that we’re now actively exploring how to do this at home and at work in a hybrid form. Whatever the modality, however, it is important to be authentic and transparent about our needs and opportunities.

While raising children with remote support is different from working remotely, some of the benefits we’ve already experienced on the home front also apply in the workplace and hold the potential to help us build bigger, more diverse, and ultimately more supportive workplaces.

These benefits include greater flexibility in how we work and when we work, expanded access to a diverse talent pool, and as a result, a heightened chance that we’ll find ourselves collaborating with people who share our passions and are ready and willing to embrace new opportunities.

References

Roy, A. K., Breaux, R., Sciberras, E., Patel, P., Ferrara, E., Shroff, D. M., Cash, A. R., Dvorsky, M. R., Langberg, J. M., Quach, J., Melvin, G., Jackson, A., & Becker, S. P. (2022). A preliminary examination of key strategies, challenges, and benefits of remote learning expressed by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. School Psychology, 37(2), 147–159. https://doi.org/10.1037/spq0000465

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