The one mantra coming from teachers that I keep hearing is “we are building the plane as we fly it” in reference to the challenges of hybrid classrooms. This is new for K-12 perhaps, but old hat in higher education (though we certainly have more of it happening right now as well).
Teachers think they are going it alone. They’re not! In fact, the greatest asset for the hybrid classroom is right in front of them…LIBRARIANS. As information sleuths and masters at troubleshooting, librarians have the kind of training that can serve as the ground control to this remote learning experiment. Here’s how.
Managing Technology. In the hybrid classroom, proper AV setup is crucial to success. Teachers who complain about the burden of teaching two groups of students separately have poor setups. Librarians are media specialists. They can fix this problem by setting up the classroom up front or providing a diagram guide and making sure teachers have the right gear (like a mic). Granted, this advice is best suited for the secondary classroom. Hybrid elementary classrooms are a different beast (IMO, they are developmentally inappropriate).
Providing Pedagogical Support. Hybrid teaching calls for less time spent on direct instruction and more discussion and/or hands-on activities during synchronous sessions. For example, flipped approaches fit this model of learning. There are a plethora of resources available on hyflex teaching, which is the higher ed terminology for the K-12 hybrid classroom. This advice is applicable to the secondary classroom and librarians can curate and organize these sources into a handy guide for teachers.
Connecting Teachers to E-Learning Experts. Now, more than ever, we need expert guidance on moving forward successfully with the remote learning experience. Librarians are not experts in everything, but they are experts in finding expert advice, even if the resources are human. Higher education houses e-learning expertise from which K-12 can draw upon. Librarians can help make those connections between educators and administrators and the e-learning experts (instructional designers, academic librarians, distance education departments, professors). Don’t forget, higher education has been doing this distance learning thing for decades.
Motivating Students. We are finally able to see that there are a whole lot of students out there who are simply not intrinsically motivated to learn. While they might appear more motivated in the in-person classroom, it is more likely that that structure provides extrinsic motivation. This might explain the high dropout rate in college, which relies on self-motivated learners. There are so many things about the library that foster intrinsic motivation in students (recreational reading, genius hour, maker activities, video games). For remote learning, this is more important than ever, which makes librarians absolutely vital to remote learning success.
Advocating for Innovation. The pandemic has created an opportunity to innovate in education. The educational innovations that emerge from this pandemic will have long lasting effects on K-12 education (higher education too). Librarians can be the drivers of some that innovation by advocating for new tools, new pedagogies, new ways of thinking.