The entire Encore community has now been working with Distance Learning at home for almost a month. For some, this has been a very stressful way to learn. For others, it is just what the doctor ordered. In an age of technology when the world can move pretty fast, the world of education is trying to keep pace with the changing needs of the student...especially the teenage student.
Teens outpace adults with technology. They have so much screentime on a daily basis that they are learning how to multi-task or "multi-screen" their lives. All of their information is delivered in short soundbites and short reads. Most of their reading is on an illuminated screen and their communication is largely nonverbal. They require a different way to look at how they learn because the world they live in is very different than the world that existed even just ten years ago.
Families are working at a faster pace than ever (except for maybe now amidst COVID-19). Vacations and work happen on different schedules and the world is more individualized than historically has ever been available. There is a world of information at fingertips and needs have changed. Americans work more and take less vacations than the rest of the world. Teens are seeking employment and wanting to accomplish more, quicker. Not that all of this is a good thing or that "speeding up" the world is beneficial, but today the ability to choose your own adventure and your own lifestyle is more important than ever.
Hybrid study for teens is fast becoming a very popular alternative to traditional seat-based school programs or full homeschool or independent study programs. A lot of families and teens are looking for something in between. Hybrid offers the socialization of a traditional seat based program with the time flexibility of an independent study or homeschool program. This is the "in between" that families are looking for.
Hybrid study combines the best of both worlds. A hybrid study program calls for the student to participate in traditional seat based classes a few days per week and then work independently from home on the other days during the regular school week. Courses are based as semesters and students generally take less classes at a time on strict timelines. On the seat based days, students can register for classes that require lab time or cover a subject that the student struggles with (like Chemistry or advanced math) and electives that help socialize the student for communication development. Then on the opposite days, they can work from home on classes that they excel on using a technology platform and digital support to complete the course. This offers the structure of tradition with the freedom of technology.
Encore has been planning the implementation of a formal hybrid program for the last two years. We started with a test group of about 70 students across the organization. They moved their social sciences and their English to online curriculum. They were given a study hall to work through these courses and access to teachers and coordinating tutors to complete the courses successfully. At the end of the two year test pilot, Encore is launching this program on a wider scale in the fall of 20/21. One of the reasons for Encore's successful implementation of COVID teaching is because of the strategies that were in progress for the program launch this fall.
Encore has been on a rotating block schedule for twelve years. This fall, the rotation will stop. Classes on historically "red" days will now happen every Monday and Wednesday. Classes on historically "black" days will now happen every Tuesday and Thursday. Fridays will move through a testing, project based learning, CTE Scheduling, remediation, and credit recovery program dependent on need. Students on a Hybrid program will generally come to school two - three days per week and then work from home on the off days. This allows freedom to enroll in community college early, get a job, or have the quiet focus of learning from home.
Encore's curriculum is largely online. Encore offers a full range of A-G approved courses to set students on a college track. AP and Honors classes are offered in person with some online access. Starting in the fall, students will be able to log in to LIVE classes and watch and participate from home on their Hybrid days. Students test on Fridays and have a direct curriculum coordinator designated to them to help them stay on track. Courses are graded, offered, and tutored by credentialed teachers. Students also have access to sign up and sit in on classes while they are taking place, sign up for peer tutors, and request direct teacher tutoring for their courses while they complete them. Classes are recorded each week and offered in recording for reference when a student is stuck. Part of the course is Distance Learning and the students are well supported.
Through Hybrid study, students are enrolled as an Independent Study student. This means that the family vacation that might take them away from school is not going to hurt them when it comes to attendance. Of course they will need to make up participation points and assignments for seat-based courses while they are gone, but family will not have to worry about missing a day of school. Students can log on to school anywhere in the world.
The name of education in this century is all about choice and creating your own school adventure. Whether a student is looking for structure, flexibility, or a completely tailored plan, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to education, as long as we continue to build lifelong learners.