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hybrid blended modeless:
a primer

Face to face learning, whether it is stand-and-deliver or something more collaborative, zoned or group based, has always contrasted with online learning in its own various forms. Big projects like Notschool for excluded pupils, free to use learning resources like the Khan Academy ("free, for anyone, anywhere, forever.") or the Oak Academy have increasingly made online learning more of a systemic option. And of course the novel pandemic has brought millions into online learning - with some of the most rapid staff development ever!

So we currently have an education system that is a mix of face to face learning with online.

It almost seems as if there is more debate about terminology than the nitty grittty details - like how to timetable asynchronous, mixed age, collaborative activities. Or when might plenary sessions occur? This discussion is typical:

But even without a vocabulary, in reality a host of differing models now exist - and the main impact of home learning and lockdowns during the pandemic has been to create an even broader mix. This diagram is indicative:

enlarged version of this diagram

The World Bank in this useful paper gives some useful country examples of who is where in this multifaceted world:

So this page is really a primer to explore the breadth of what is happening, or being talked about. Below, in no particular order, are some links worth pursuing:

Here is an interesting (with helpful diagram) KPMG article (from KPMG Saudi Arabia) on the future of Learning being Blended:

and indeed most pf the big consultancies have a view in some kind of paper - this is McKinsey's:

Globally, some districts and authorities have taken the plunge. For example the York Region District School Board in Canada:
although this is not without political controversy:

And there have been / will be a number of useful & spirited conferences exploring all this too. For example:

passed by now, but which was a helpful event.

In this paper on Policy Responses to Coronavirus the OECD wrestle with "there are still concerns that online learning may have been a sub-optimal substitute for face-to-face instruction" ...

...but on the other hand "Education systems should aim to strengthen engagement between schools and parents in order to improve information and guidance to parents on effective practices for supporting their children’s learning".

Probably, the best way to view this is "it's all Learning" just like "it's all work", or "it's our family".

There may be special cases - for example families with no online component for perhaps cultural reasons - but a "single mode located school" is the one needing a special label. Or all-from-home which historically has been labelled as Home Education.


An short opinion piece I wrote on embracing the family as learning is supported in homes alongside schools:

and another here on what they modeless future might begin to e like:

a footnote on change:
How might change occur?

COVID has shown how quickly schools can reconfigure - but also that running two differnt parallel schools, one virtual and one face to face is impossibly exhausting. Part of the secret seems to lie in greater autonomy / agency for the learners. The teachers' role is then less exhausting and learner motivation is greater - a win / win:

Schools can (demonstrably) morph into a more modeless approach. As long as you know where you are going, building towards it can be a gentle process. Howvwer, starting a new institution from scratch as a modeless one carries many advantages - at the simplest, a school for (say) 1,500 students might need only have buildings for (say) 1,000.

One important enabler of change currently is the move towards modeless / hybrid workplaces too. The world of work has seemingly changed and the impact on commuter servoces,and property prices / locations is profound. CoVID has produced the kickstart change and momentum needed for real change. But home working does enable home learning: someone is there for safety and emergencies.

It took airlines 64 years to reach 50 million users, Netflix 7 years However, Disney+ achieved this in just 5 months under pandemic lockdown. Schools could change as rapidly, perhaps.

Prof Stephen Heppell of UCJC
this page last updated on Wednesday, September 15, 2021