The central theme for discussion in this conference is the value of systematizing and promoting the development of Hybrid Learning Models, and the strategies to implement them in our education systems, emphasizing sustainability.
Today’s cities are generating a wide range of changes which require well-founded reflection in order to ensure urban spaces are functional, sustainable and habitable. These spaces are ideal for innovation and to introduce ideas, and consequently also for learning, thus stimulating economic growth and social development.
Furthermore, the constant and ever more transparent presence of interconnected mobile devices, the Internet of Things, the rapid convergence of technology and information, Big Data and learning analytics, are part of a new social ecology in which education systems must not only teach how to use all these technologies, but also incorporate them into their own methods.
Due to their fixed, static and decontextualized nature, traditional learning environments are not well suited to meet current educational requirements. For this reason, it is necessary to acknowledge that priorities and the design of new pedagogical models must be planned including elements that guarantee that the diverse learning needs of students with different backgrounds and social opportunities are met.
Hybrid Learning Models are prominent among these models that take into account the new technological and social learning needs, and today they are regarded as boosters of current and future learning, since they feature the best of both worlds. On the one hand, they cover face-to-face teaching, typically involving non-digital resources in traditional physical spaces like schools, academies and universities; and, on the other, they also include distance teaching based on mature technologies in various kinds of virtual spaces.
These hybrid spaces make it possible to develop learning processes that are not limited by space or time. These processes are determined by how each individual uses the sources of information and the hyperconnected tools, and how the acquired knowledge is itself used and passed on. This entails a democratization of learning, as it allows a greater autonomy to acquire knowledge, to make decisions and to achieve academic and social integration. The rise of these new ways of learning is, essentially, a positive disruption that individualizes the students’ learning activities, enhancing their strengths and complementing their limitations to help them realize their full potential.
Some educators, however, are reluctant to use the virtual learning experience fully. The reason is that, while these technologies offer huge opportunities to guarantee diversity, the sharing of knowledge and networked activity, on the other hand, the absence of practical teachings or the limited opportunity to access them due to financial, social or cultural disadvantage, may promote segregation and marginalization.
Social Sciences and the Humanities are areas of knowledge in which it is possible to address most of these challenges. They are also suitable to shed light on the relationships between hybrid learning and the social arenas of learning. These new learning models are fostering a new social, civic and developmental model that ought to be in alignment with the sustainable development goals promoted by the United Nations.