Lucy, a High school student in Betzy Orenos, Innovations Coach at Decroly Americano School’s class, suddenly stopped showing up to remote lessons.

Betzy tried emailing. No response.
Phone calls. Endless ringtones.

Sound familiar? 

What happened to Lucy? Was she ok? Was she disengaged? Was she having problems at home? 

At her wit’s end, Betzy tried something different. She designed a project-based experience that allowed Lucy to create her ideal hybrid learning environment.

Suddenly Lucy re-appeared.

She re-engaged. She completed assignments on time. She showed up to remote check-ins. She began interacting again with classmates.

And she exhibited a project that made her classmates’ jaws drop. [pictured above] 

‘Magic Bullets’ like this rarely exist in the teaching world, but for hybrid learning, I truly believe Co-Spaces is a game changer.

It combines VR, simple programming, 3-d animation, and seamless interaction.

Betzy’s students used it to narrate the water cycle; re-design amusement parks; organize online carnivals; and organize virtual tours of Guetemala.

There are 5 RULES Betzy used to design these learning experiences. Learn the 5 rules and how to apply them to your learning experiences below:

Rule #1: Make it Relevant and Real World

In hybrid learning, students don’t have to show up to class. They can easily switch off their cameras and sleep in. They need a REASON to show up that extends beyond a consequence of failed assignments. Designing relevant and real world learning experiences gives them that reason. Suddenly, they are not just showing up for themselves; they are showing up for their classmates. In Lucy’s case, she had the opportunity to design the ideal socially distanced space. It was her chance to provide input as to what would get more kids like her to show up. START all learning experiences with this in mind. Once you have the REAL WORLD need, curriculum is easy to integrate.

Rule #2: Provide Parameters

Students need parameters to thrive in hybrid learning experiences. Think of parameters like the bumpers in a bowling lane. They help keep students focused, and progressing towards the bigger goal. In Lucy’s case, there were natural parameters dictated by social distancing laws. Although there was freedom in the ‘ideal’ environment Lucy created, she had to fit it within the parameters of mandated mask laws, group gathering size, and safe social distance. These parameters or ‘bumpers’ ensured a realistic final product.

Rule #3: Scaffold The Experience

When Betzy designed this alternative learning experience for Lucy, she didn’t set her loose and say, “I’ll check back with you in 6 weeks.” If she did, she may never see Lucy again. Instead, she created a simple design brief that outlined check-ins and scaffolds for the larger project. In the design brief, Betzy broke down the experience into bite size pieces including:

  1. Plan and Sketch
  2. Make a List of Items
  3. Start Building
  4. Add People to the Virtual Reality Experience
  5. Add animation and Movement
  6. Create a VoiceOver/Narration
  7. Test Your CoSpace

These shorter ‘sprints’ in the learning experience allowed Lucy to build her project piece by piece. At each point, there was a virtual check-in for feedback and refinement.

Rule #4: Deliver mini-lessons, not whole class lectures

With a real world, scaffolded, parameter driven learning experience, there is NO need for whole class lessons or lectures online. Instead, you can design simple mini-lessons to expose students to the skills they will need to complete each part. For example, Betzy designed a ‘flipped classroom’ lesson to demonstrate how to add narration by creating her own. Students were assigned to watch the short video and then check-in with her at a set point throughout the week with questions/ ideas for their own. In this way, as a learning experience facilitator, you can ensure Lucy and other students get the personalized attention they need.

Rule #5: Provide a Relevant Audience at Several Points in the Project

Scaffolding the learning experience and checking in regularly is not going to be enough to fully engage students like Lucy. It will also be critical to engage Lucy with her peers, and experts outside of the virtual classroom to elevate her work quality. For example, in this learning experience, Betzy set up several virtual rooms for critique and revision. Each room was guided by a simple protocol for how to provide critique in a ‘kind, helpful, and specific’ manner.

It is also critical to design a relevant outside audience for your hybrid learning experiences. Imagine students’ engagement if presenting their Sci- Fi Films to George Lucas; or their virtual planetary expeditions to Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Additional Resources:

Want to dive into CoSpaces to design your next learning experience? Betzy has kindly compiled a wakelet full of helpful resources, from sample lesson plans and project ideas to comprehensive tutorials on how to create the virtual worlds. Our presentation is also referenced below, and will be available for free access for the next 2 weeks:

  1. Wakelet, ‘Designing Innnovative Learning Experiences’  
  2. ‘Designing Innovative Learning Experiences in CoSpaces’ Full Presentation 

(Password: cospaces123)