Hybrid learning environments

Hybrid learning environments are gradually infiltrating face-to-face teaching environments. Wolpert-Gowron states it plainly, “It is not a question of if; it is a question of how” (2011, para. 3). Blending online and face-to-face content can satisfy the need for flexibility and self-direction, yet also includes the facilitative relationship of the student and instructor (Bradshaw & Hultquist, 2017). The two modalities, if carefully structured, can complement each other.

In the associate degree nursing skills laboratory environment, students show up for a six-hour block of didactic and hand-on learning. The students are often fatigued by the need to be active learners for that amount of time. Indeed, the design of the nursing laboratory is intended to emphasize the application of skills rather than acquiring new knowledge. This environment seems ideal for blended classroom methods. Bradshaw and Hultquist (2017) warn that adequate planning is essential for blended classrooms to be successful. In particular, there is a tendency to expect more work from the students compared with traditional face-to-face learning. In my view, blended environments demand that the instructor be well prepared and very clear with their expectations with the students.  The increased work needed by the instructor has been a barrier to implementing blended classroom methods in my institution.

The nursing skills laboratory is where students accomplish psychomotor learning of their nursing skills. The way instructors teach in this environment is not guided by evidence because there is not much research on the topic. Staykova, Stewart, and Staykov (2017) compared traditional methods (PowerPoint lecture, hands-on practice with checklists, and quizzes) against innovative methods in the nursing skills laboratory environment.  The innovative strategies included the use of admission tickets (ATs) to class. ATs require home pre-learning to include online or textbook reading and a brief online assignment.  Staykova, Stewart, and Staykov (2017) found that active learning is achieved through a combination of traditional and innovative approaches.  The use of ATs is particularly intriguing to me in order to make sure all learners arrive with the same necessary information and to help create an engaged learning environment when they are present in class. I hope to use this blended teaching strategy in the future.

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