Over the course of recent years, hybrid learning changed from an immediate, short-term need to an established standard for the new era of education. With a growing number of students expressing a preference for at least partially online learning, it becomes clear that institutions need to adapt their campuses and educational offerings for the now-permanent requirement of hybrid and HyFlex learning . The benefits are numerous: hybrid learning provides learners with a wider range of instructional modes and more control over the pace and location of their learning, thus making for a more inclusive educational offering. Especially for disadvantaged or working students, the option to participate in their courses asynchronously, from the kitchen table, is often invaluable.
The challenge of implementing hybrid learning lies in the implementation process itself. While hybrid learning has undergone a massive mainstreamization due to the pandemic, the efforts to digitize the physical classroom are by no means new. According to the 2019 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report, hybrid learning spaces have been actively championed even before the pandemic but were later deprioritized due to the rise of exclusively online learning . Despite this long history of transitioning to hybrid, sustainable strategies for effectively conducting the transformation are still lacking. Hybrid learning spaces are costly and require new technologies and instructional approaches. This alone can give one pause, and the doubts are only amplified by the challenges in adoption – are the new technologies user-friendly and efficient or do they add more work to the faculties’ plates? Are the students actually more engaged, or do they have difficulties navigating the unnecessarily complex functionalities and user interfaces? In short: do new technologies act as tools that facilitate effective pedagogies, or as rigid, inflexible structures that limit the opportunities for learning?
In this article, we will address these questions by exploring the best practices, use cases, and strategies related to providing an engaging, inclusive hybrid experience that promotes well-being and resilience among the students, faculty, and administrative workforce.
Hybrid learning technology has grown rapidly, offering creative solutions such as virtual labs, VR, advanced video-conferencing platforms, or live lecture streaming. But when selecting teaching tools for a hybrid course, it is important to remember the digital divide. The digital divide in higher education occurs when people of lower economic means cannot fully participate in a technology-driven learning experience, either due to limited internet access or lack of the necessary hardware.  While in-person education solves this problem by granting access to on-campus technology, the digital divide becomes amplified in remote settings. Connection issues, low-quality mobile experience, and inaccessible materials all contribute to the growing disengagement of online students whose access to technology remains limited. This, in turn, makes it more difficult and frustrating for instructors to provide a consistently high-quality learning experience for all their students.
In the long term, institutions must embrace strategies for closing the digital divide such as collaborating with governments to enhance the internet infrastructure, promoting a better mobile experience for mobile-reliant learners, and transforming licensing models to address the needs of remote students.    However, colleges and universities can also deploy more immediate solutions, which include:
Building a hybrid classroom requires much more than a camera and a mic setup. Sometimes, what ends up being the biggest frustration is the constricting room layout. In their paper on HyFlex interaction, Marie Leijon and Björn Lundgren of Malmo University cite research, according to which instructors expressed that because of awkward placement, they did not feel as connected with their online students as they felt with their in-person ones: [6:1]
“McNaughton et al. (2014) found that the teachers experienced a conflict between the design of the physical learning spaces and their pedagogical goals. When the teacher moved around in the space only one-third of the room was used consistently; furthermore, the teacher felt disconnected from the remote students. That is, the design of the space and the framing of a video conference affected the interaction in both the campus space and online.“
To support faculty in the ongoing transition to full-time hybrid learning, hybrid classroom design has to be inclusive, engaging, and easy to navigate, in consideration of the following practices: 
One of the defining characteristics of a hybrid campus should be resilience and agility. That is why it is crucial to track the success of and satisfaction with the new solutions, as well as draw actionable conclusions. Insights from the students, the faculties, and the administrative force alike can provide new directions for the future of the hybrid campus.  Some of the data strategies to improve the hybrid experience are:
One of the institutions that uses data and analytics to improve its hybrid campus is Georgia State University.  Georgia State University updated its already existing set of risk factors to a hybrid environment and utilized them to reach out to students in case the flagged issues were detected. Whenever a risk factor, such as students not logging into their course or not completing their assignments, occurs, academic advisers are notified and able to contact the students in a timely manner and provide the necessary support. Furthermore, Georgia State University uses data and analytics to anticipate which students are having financial difficulties and provide aid directly without any need for in-person interaction.
When making a transition to a hybrid campus, it is crucial to set clear limits and priorities, both in relation to the academic portfolio and employee concerns. It is both impossible and unnecessary to switch to a seamless, fully hybrid campus all at once, so the choices institutions are making should be strategic and not overburden faculties, workforce, or students. A collaborative, agile approach helps implement changes that make the campus experience easier and better, not overwhelming and restrictive. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Hybrid learning is not going away and the need to establish sustainable strategies for building hybrid campuses is becoming more and more pressing. A full switch is not going to happen overnight, but with a balanced mix of immediate and long-term solutions, institutions can introduce changes gradually, without overwhelming the faculty, the campus workforce, or the students.
 EDUCAUSE. (2019) 2019 Horizon Report. 11. Link
 EDUCAUSE. (2021) 7 Things You Should Know About the Digital Divide. Link
 EDUCAUSE (2022) Modality Preferences. 2022 Students and Technology Report: Rebalancing the Student Experience. Link
 Friday, C. (2023) How Universities can close the Digital Divide in Higher Education. FE News. Link
 Instructure. (2022) Narrowing the Digital Divide in Higher Education. Link
 Leijon, M. & Lundgren, B. (2019) Connecting Physical and Virtual Spaces in a HyFlex Pedagogic Model with a Focus on Teacher Interaction. Journal of Learning Spaces. Link
 Selingo, J. & Renick, T. (2020) Institutional Transformation Stories: Innovation, Student Success, and COVID-19: Five Questions for Georgia State University. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Link
 Selingo, J. et al. (2021) The hybrid campus. Three major shifts for the post-COVID university. Deloitte Insights, Strada Education Network. Link
 Simkin, S. (2020) Creating the HBS Hybrid Classrooms: Collaboration, Experimentation, Equity, and Innovation. Harvard Business School Newsroom. Link
 Steelcase (n.d.) Three Concepts for Creating Better Hybrid Learning Spaces. Link
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