Trends in vocational education and training are changing. How has the pandemic accelerated the development of hybrid learning?
On 7 July, the VET4EU2 platform for associations active in the higher education, vocational education and training sector, organized a webinar on the evolution of online learning towards hybrid learning. The seminar brought together number of speakers including representatives of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), namely EIT Digital – leading European digital innovation and entrepreneurial education organisation.
During the pandemic, many schools went through several phases – from initial blended learning through distance learning to current hybrid learning, which is being used at a global scale. The panelists agreed that the accelerated development of new teaching methods brings many advantages as well as disadvantages, while the biggest challenge for teachers and trainers is not the technology itself, but finding the best, most effective combination of online and offline methods.
In this context, a distinction needs to be made between blended and hybrid learning. Although both include traditional teaching methods enriched by the use of technology, they are not synonymous. Hybrid learning combines face-to-face (F2F) and online teaching, meaning students can choose whether to participate in the lesson partly/fully F2F or partly/fully online. In the case of blended learning, online is only a supplement to the F2F, which remains crucial, so students attend lessons in person and do some online learning in addition to it.
VET schools, where practical experience is essential, also had to deal with transfering education to the online environment. Carlo De Smet from the Belgian public employment service VDAB shared his experience with the transition from blended courses to hybrid ones. He considers the possibility to tailor online courses to individual students needs to be the biggest advantage, and on the other hand the increased demand on teachers to be the most problematic aspect.
Lily Abdiche from the French company MIMBUS spoke about the use of simulation tools in VET and presented their latest projects. During the pandemic, the demand for simulations was significantly higher and due to their attractiveness, practicality and also the ability to reduce the workload of trainers, the simulations are likely to become a common part of training.
Roberto Prieto from EIT Digital mentioned the importance of digital education and competences. In this context, he briefly introduced the portfolio of various professional courses offered by EIT Digital to students and graduates.