Many people think the online components of hybrid education are impersonal, but it’s really all about personalizing.

Digital tools allow teachers to meet students on their own turf, providing lessons tailored to their interests and rife with the opportunities to interact and explore.

“Choice is absolutely vital,” Moe says. “If I’m in a classroom and send out a worksheet, some will be interested and some won’t. But if I can post five discussion board subjects, students can choose the one they’re interested in. If students can choose their own experience, they’ll have a better outcome.”

Hybrid education gives teachers the tools to make those different experiences possible. The teacher is still a vital element of the process; the computer is simply a tool to enhance the process and engage students in an arena where they’re most comfortable.

Kids still need personal interaction in schools to learn to develop relationships with peers and adults. There are some things that are simply better left to human discourse.

With discovery-based learning, skilled teachers can guide the kids to figure things out and have their own “aha” moments, says Joshua Cook, faculty advisor for UCLA’s GSE&IS Teacher Education Program. “What the computer allows for is better engagement,” he says. “You learn through talking and getting your hands on something and manipulating it. The computer is simply a tool.”

That tool is creating wonderful opportunities for education. Kids are no longer restrained by the resources available within a single school day or classroom. If they’re interested in Peruvian flutes, Moe says, the internet can immediately provide the information for them to learn more.

Another benefit to the hybrid model is that the technology brings in students who wouldn’t otherwise participate. Some students are more apt to perform better in class, and others participate better online. Introducing the online components allow for more students to engage in the learning process in the ways that come most naturally to them.