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Theorising hybrid lifelong learning

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In the pre-pandemic world learning was most often onsite, in-person and co-located. This was turned upside down during the pandemic where online suddenly became the ‘new normal’. To continue learning in a pandemic world, learning providers and institutions were required to rethink and reconfigure learning to more online and ‘pandemic-friendly’ formats. In the aftermath of emergency teaching and learning, providers, developers and teachers are now looking ahead to contemplate its impact on the educational landscape. Here, the large-scale, wide-spread development and delivery of online, blended and hybrid learning formats might demarcate a turning point for education. However, hybridity, hybrid learning environments and hybrid learning carry with them particular conceptualisations, characteristics and frameworks we need to bear in mind when thinking about lifelong learning in a post-pandemic world. This article is an effort to provide an operationalisation of theories for hybrid lifelong learning through asking: How can we understand the concepts of hybrids, hybridization and hybridity in order to take advantage of the potentials and opportunities these concepts hold when it comes to lifelong learning? And how can we apply this understanding to describe hybrid lifelong learning in ways that sets it apart from emergency teaching and learning as well as other similar formats such as online learning or parallel teaching?. Practitioner notes What is already known about this topic Hybrid learning environments is a central topic in the field, but it is not clear how we should think about this term. Hybrid learning has grown substantially in importance. Yet the field is still under-theorised. Hybrid learning environments are challenging and under-researched. The dissolution of dichotomies central in hybrid learning makes it more complex and less predictable. What this paper adds Theoretical groundwork is provided to circumvent the “common sense” understanding of hybridity in hybrid learning. Synthesises insights from a body of recent research on hybrid education and hybrid learning, reflecting the complexity added by the notion of hybridity to learning, learning environments and lifelong learning. A novel conception of hybridity that foregrounds the complexity, entanglement and dissolution of dichotomies as well as a more integrated and holistic theorisation of the assumptions and premises that underpin hybrid learning, based on existing theories and research. Implications for practice and/or policy More theoretically grounded accounts of hybridity, hybrid learning and hybrid learning environments provide richer explanations of these terms, and would benefit the field. The paper's theoretical perspective prompts some rethinking of how design for hybrid learning occurs, what it consists of and how it may be improved. Teachers who want to foster hybrid learning environments and hybrid lifelong learning should be aware of using an integrated theoretical approach when analysing or designing for situations where learning is hybridised. Researchers need to be more explicit about the theories that underpin their studies of hybrid education, hybrid learning and hybrid learning environments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Pages (from-to)1709-1723
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Educational Research Association

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • hybrid learning, hybrid learning environments, hybridity, lifelong learning, post-pandemic education

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