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A systematic literature review on synchronous hybrid learning: gaps identified

Abstract

More and more higher educational institutions invest in technology-enhanced learning spaces, which raises the question of how these environments can be shaped to be as effective as possible. A specific new learning space is the synchronous hybrid or blended learning environment in which both on-site and remote students can simultaneously attend learning activities. Given that synchronous hybrid learning is relatively new, there are few studies that have investigated its use and effectiveness. This study synthesised the best available evidence worldwide to provide an overview of the state-of-the-art of the current research regarding the benefits, challenges and current design principles to set up synchronous hybrid learning. In line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, we included 47 studies which were analysed to respond to our research questions. One of the main findings is that existing research suggests cautious optimism about synchronous hybrid learning which creates a more flexible, engaging learning environment compared to fully online or fully on-site instruction. Yet, this new learning space has several challenges which are both pedagogical and technological in nature. To meet these challenges, several design guidelines are formulated. A final conclusion is that most of the existing literature is exploratory and qualitative in nature and has focused mostly on descriptions of students’ experiences, the organisational implementation and the technological design. Empirical studies have only begun to emerge and more research is needed into different pedagogical scenarios and their impact on student outcomes.

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Acknowledgements

This research is partially funded by imec through the LECTURE + project. The imec.icon project LECTURE + is research bringing together academic researchers and industry partners. In this project, the research groups ITEC, Distrinet and PSI collaborated with the industry partners Barco, Televic Education and Limecraft. The LECTURE + project was co-financed by imec and received project support from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (Project Number HBC.2016.0657).

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Raes, A., Detienne, L., Windey, I. et al. A systematic literature review on synchronous hybrid learning: gaps identified. Learning Environ Res 23, 269–290 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-019-09303-z

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Keywords

  • Here or there instruction
  • Research gaps
  • Synchronous hybrid or blended learning
  • Systematic review