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October 1, 2021

Exploring the Remote and Hybrid Education Continuum

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In 2020, we saw an abrupt shift in education as the world adapted to the throes of a global pandemic. For some professors—and their students—the shift felt rocky. It was fast, unplanned, and disconcertingly open-ended.

Virtual worlds helped to resolve much of the tension. Gamified platforms let students feel like they were back on campus, especially when administrators designed spaces to look like physical classrooms. As a result, 86% of students and teachers that used Virbela in the last year felt more engaged with one another than when using video conferencing tools.

As we enter another year of classes, it’s time to learn a few lessons. Let’s take what we figured out in 2020 and apply it this year for a more vibrant, engaged year of learning.

Hybrid Education Works

There was no shortage of anecdotal evidence that the rapid move to remote and hybrid learning in 2020 was rough. But colleges have been offering remote classes for years now. 

Online and virtual classes are no longer the shadow of the real thing. Prestigious universities offer entire degrees online now. Even Columbia University offers hybrid Master’s programs.

The key is to make specific adjustments that resolve or skip the pain points. Let’s break it down:

2020 Pain Point: It was hard to plan lessons in 2020. Classes may have felt disconnected, so professors weren’t sure if they were timing lessons well enough. You might have asked yourself if you were teaching in a continuous way that made sense.

2021 Solution: In online and virtual classrooms, you can integrate digital lesson materials with no problem. Use Virbela’s web boards like you would a web browser. Pull up calendar apps, syllabi, presentations, and more. You’re a little more practiced teaching in digital spaces now, so start using the tools to support you.

2020 Pain Point: Student engagement was hard to gauge. They were likely distracted by public health or economic concerns. It makes it harder to get focused.

2021 Solution: We’re a little more used to being cautious or showing forethought around health and economic matters this year. But you can also begin engaging students with virtual lessons. In virtual worlds, students can see each other. They can move, speak privately, and share links or online materials. The depth of experience resolves any engagement matters you may have had with video upfront and automatically.

2020 Pain Point: Figuring out when to return to classrooms was hard, too—maybe even scary for some people. With different opinions on what was best, there was no way to get a consensus as a class. Someone was bound to disagree with your school’s stance.

2021 Solution: Hybrid education makes it easy to please everyone at least part of the time. Hybridizing classes lets you return stability to your students’ schedules. It enables you to get those lesson plans back on track, but it also gives everyone a chance to settle into new routines. Against the context of our complex world, it’s easier to teach and learn online in many ways. With virtual platforms and hybrid schedules, you can integrate those benefits into every semester.

Building a Better Future for Students

At the end of the day, there could be significant benefits to pushing the boundaries of hybrid education. We see the beginnings of them already: Students balancing work and school in ways they never could have before; the use of technology preparing them for jobs that are more and more often remote. 

One thing we’ve all learned: It’s time to rethink the classroom format. Education thought leaders recently sat down for a panel discussion in Virbela (see Evolution of Education: What Does the Future Hold?) to share their views on the topic; particularly how hybrid education gives you the space to experiment with what fits your institution, teaching style, and, most importantly, your students. 

For more on creating remote and hybrid learning experiences, follow Virbela on LinkedIn or reach out to

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