Hopkins Hybrid Model Aims to Bridge Divide
So, are you Maroon or Grey? That was the big question once Hopkins announced their hybrid model that would kick off the 2020 school year.
When I thought about the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, I thought about meeting all of my new teachers, getting to see friends, Class Trip Day, Homecoming, and so much more. What I never could have expected, was that I would only be able to see half of my friends in person every other week. In order to keep us safe right now, Hopkins must maintain a hybrid model to limit the amount of students on campus and follow social distancing guidelines. This is not easy. Some students have all of their friends in the same cohort, others have one or two friends, and others have none. This is a major challenge for students to adapt to. Whether you’re with all of your friends, or none, there are many other difficult aspects to hybrid learning. We are forced into adapting to these new circumstances, and for some people this must be faced without close friendships.
Being on campus only half of the time with half of the students is creating an inevitable divide between the two groups. There are disagreements over who is “the better cohort” and whether Maroon or Grey is superior. There also is a large divide within the classroom. It is nearly impossible to feel as connected to your peers and teachers while you are sitting behind a screen, knowing that many of your other classmates are getting to physically engage in the learning environment, accompanying the disconnect are feelings of isolation, frustration, and stress. It is harder to keep up with the pace of the class when you frequently can’t see or hear what is going on in the room. Last spring, I thought that online learning was difficult, but I think that hybrid learning brings on a completely new set of challenges that are even more difficult than before.
Teachers have to work twice as hard to keep virtual students engaged while still maintaining a positive environment for the in-person students. There are also new technological challenges and issues to deal with, on top of essentially teaching two classes at once. This balancing act is difficult, and although most students are understanding of these challenges, teachers are still under a lot of stress trying to keep the class connected as a whole.
When we are on campus, things are far from normal. There is no more socializing in the library, no hanging out with friends unless you are six feet away from each other, masks on at all times, silent lunches if bad weather forces us inside, and even wearing masks while playing sports. The differences are hard, and sometimes they overwhelm the fact that we are lucky enough to be on campus part-time, even if things are different than they were before the pandemic. This is all very unexpected, and not something any of us ever wanted or expected. This makes it very overwhelming to navigate. We all long for the times pre-COVID-19 when life was “normal.” Adjusting to the pandemic, and our new normal for the time being, is not simple. Hybrid learning presents us with new challenges to navigate, but it also gives us the opportunity to be back on campus and see our friends and peers. It may not be what we expected or what we want, but it is an opportunity worth being grateful for. We are lucky enough to have the resources, such as the OWL, to connect us with our peers in the opposite cohort, even though we are not physically together.