Half-term report: hybrid method to become a staple part of education

HiperSuli evaluates half term

The first half of the academic year 2020/21 wasn’t any easier than the spring period despite all appearances. What challenges did teachers and students face in the new term? How much did they get used to hybrid education? Did digitally qualified teachers cope better in the face of challenges? Please read a half-term evaluation from Balázs Koren, maths teacher, Digital Ambassador of the Year and head of the HiperSuli digital education program.

The most uncommon half-term of recent history has just been closed. In the summer, we thought that teachers and students can slowly forget about the education difficulties caused by the coronavirus in the spring and return to the classroom as usual in September. But the events of the pandemic have rewritten those expectations. Secondary schools shifted to online education on a mandatory basis and many teachers found it difficult to ensure a smooth classroom routine.

“Public education was shocked by the events in the spring. That time, moving online seemed to be the only path feasible. The summer holiday gave a break to all stakeholders, but currently the academic years is again highly uncertain due to repeated extensions of the lockdown. We still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel”, said Balázs Koren.

Secondary schools are especially affected, particularly 6-grade schools where students in grades 7 and 8 continue to study in the physical classroom, but all higher grades are at home which puts a huge burden on teachers. They have a difficult job with some classes held in the school building, while others managed online. Quite often, some students or whole classes are required to self-isolate which makes teaching in the hybrid environment even more complicated.

Hybrid education: a blessing or a curse?

Seemingly a combination of live and online teaching, hybrid education is in reality a completely new format not easy to adopt. “In the spring, all teachers were forced to work in the digital environment and teach their students remotely. Compared to that, the hybrid environment is even more special in that it requires the sharing of the teacher’s attention with part of the class present in the physical classroom and the other part joining from their homes”, said Balázs Koren, head of HiperSuli.

Like every methodology, education research also has several pillars from concept planning and implementation to testing. Balázs Koren believes that skipping the preparation phase created a major problem in this case. “In education, students have never been simply test subjects. Any modification or change was preceded by thorough planning and preparation as a rule and it was implemented only if everything was working. An education research project usually covers a cycle of 8 to 10 years but that was naturally not possible under these extraordinary circumstances. Education currently works in start-up mode. For a product, it is not a problem if it fails. The worst thing that can happen is the business going under. But if something doesn’t work with students, that failure can have a life-long impact on their future.”

Although the new method was implemented at a lightning speed, it is likely to be part of the education system in the long run. We may face other pandemics in the future and hybrid education is also very useful when you want to involve in classroom work students away from school for any reason.

Digital skills make teachers’ job easier

In the past six months, supporting teachers in the program has been the most important goal of HiperSuli. According to Balázs Koren, nearly every participating school had teachers who didn’t need any support in digital education after a while but acted as mentors lending a helping hand to their colleagues. “Not everyone is comfortable with online or digital education. With this in mind, we welcomed when passionate teachers participating in the program helped their colleagues reach their students, teach them effectively and adapt to the changed environment as soon as possible.”

Balázs Koren said HiperSuli has been successful in developing and distributing digital education methodologies. The teachers and schools participating in the program form a cohesive community. The program has reached more than 600 teachers and nearly 5,000 students to date, while the number of teachers completing the Webuni courses offered as part of the HiperSuli program exceeded 3,000 in the past six months. The program will offer new forms of training soon. “The previous term saw a high demand for the skills and experience available in the HiperSuli program. In response to the growing interest among schools and teachers, we are now working hard to make the program and its opportunities even more broadly available.”

For useful tips on digital education please visit the HiperSuli website.