It’s important to remember that however savvy they are online, today’s students have many of the same needs as the kids who grew up without access to the same tools and information.

“Socially, they’re still kids with the same social need and desire to be connected with other people,” says Gandhi. They simply have different ways of connecting with peers and the world around them–whether it’s through Twitter or an online video game. Educators need to make use of the available tools to reach them.

“A lot of people get excited about new technology,” says Cook. “They want to put a TV in every classroom.” But putting the kids on computers with fewer teachers is the wrong answer. “What’s exciting about [hybrid education] is it’s the perfect synthesis of classroom teacher and leveraging everything that’s great about online learning. In this case, I think hybrid is the way.”

The point of hybrid education is not to replace teachers, but to provide them with tools that enhance learning for as many students as possible. And when it comes to digital natives, few alternatives show as much promise as the hybrid model.

“Any student can learn better when lessons are personalized and individualized to that student. Making a student feel comfortable and safe can help them learn, and this environment can do that,” says Gandhi. “People can fall in love online. Why can’t they connect with education online?”

Alan Rudi is principal solutions strategist at Thesys International, LLC, an educational service provider that supports schools with a hybrid online/classroom approach to education. Thesys works alongside educators and provides curricula that works with schools’ existing standards and protocols to help students reach their full potential. Thesys International is dedicated to providing high school students the optimal balance of online and in-person learning, making education more relevant for a new generation.