Using School Data to Design an Effective Hybrid Learning Program

Chad Reid

School administrators around the world are trying to ensure students get the instruction and support they need while keeping everyone safe from the coronavirus. In the initial phase of the pandemic, most school buildings were shut down and students learned remotely. But many students need at least some in-person instruction to thrive, and school shutdowns can compound existing educational disparities.

Some K–12 districts have fully reopened and stayed open, but others have had to close their doors again in response to new outbreaks. There are a number of variables involved in making the decision to restart or continue in-person instruction, including scientific data like the level of community spread. Many schools have turned to a hybrid instruction model, which combines in-person and remote instruction, as a stopgap measure while they bring students back from an all-remote environment.

A hybrid approach allows schools to reduce the number of students who have to be transported to and from school, and ensures a smaller student population in the building on a given day, making it easier to maintain social distancing. This strategy enables schools to accommodate the needs of students who struggle with all-remote education, such as younger children, students with special needs, those who are food insecure, and those who are receiving English language instruction. 


Data-Driven Program Design

While a hybrid approach improves flexibility, it also requires educators to design and manage two instruction tracks and monitor both closely to ensure students are getting the education they need — this is why it’s so important to collect and analyze all relevant data. Student data enables educators to design data-driven programs and monitor trends so they can adjust their approach when necessary.

So what kind of data do educators need to create an effective hybrid program? Enrollment numbers, attendance records, and course completion and graduation rates, as well as demographic information like gender, race, age, economic status, and special education requirements are critical. At the classroom level, data like quiz and test grades and standardized education assessment findings are helpful, along with student engagement and teacher observation data.

Survey data can also play a key role in hybrid program design. Schools that conduct surveys to ask parents and students about their preferences and resources will be in a better position to design a hybrid education model that works for all the student populations they serve. Conducting surveys online is easy and affordable, and surveys can contribute significantly to hybrid program success.


Data and Analytics to Drive Ongoing Success

Once educators establish a hybrid program, it’s important to evaluate students’ current academic status by using an assessment tool like a standardized test. Establishing a baseline allows educators to keep track of how students are progressing. In addition to monitoring individual student progress toward goals, educators can analyze data in aggregate to identify trends.

Analysis can help educators spot a negative trend, like grades trending down after a holiday, so they can take action to get students back on track, such as working more closely with parents to make sure students complete their work. Though many parents find it difficult to juggle working from home and overseeing their children’s studies, specific information can help.

Educators can also analyze student data to make sure at-risk students and those from underserved populations get a better shot at equal educational opportunities. For example, surveys can help educators get a more accurate view of resource shortfalls, such as lack of broadband access or devices. By identifying what’s needed, schools can help close the gaps.


Tools That Can Help Educators Get the Data They Need

Educators typically have access to district, state or national aggregate data that can help them make decisions about program design. But school and classroom-specific data can help teachers and administrators gain more insights. Fortunately, there are affordable and/or free cloud-based tools that educators can use to collect data for hybrid program design and management.

Educators can distribute quizzes, course evaluations, and registration forms for activities or classes using online templates. Teachers and/or administrators can also use online surveys to get critical information about student needs and resources, which can help them design and manage the program to ensure it meets the needs of all students.

While vaccine rollouts provide light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, many schools will probably be engaged in online learning and/or hybrid instruction for months and maybe even years to come. That’s why it’s so important to get the necessary tools to collect vital data now. Educators with the right data will be better prepared to navigate the uncertainty and help students succeed.


About the author

Chad Reid is Vice President of Marketing at JotForm


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