Understanding the New Catholic Board Hybrid High School Model
By Erin Rebello
Due to the coronavirus, there have been numerous changes to our everyday way of life. Besides social distancing and various restrictions, students have also dealt with a number of changes pertaining to how school will be offered. Instead of traditional in-person learning, many Catholic school boards have switched to a hybrid learning module consisting of both in person, synchronous-online, and asynchronous learning. School boards have also switched to a “quadmester” system – which is just about as confusing as the name sounds! As a high school student who’s been using this new system for the past 4 months, I’ve definitely got a lot to say about it!
Getting the Definitions Down
- Quadmester: A learning model in which students take two courses over a ten-week period. This occurs 4 times over the course of the 10-month school year. It can be difficult to conceptualize a quadmester, but it’s much easier to understand if you think of it like a halved semester.
- Synchronous Online Learning: A teaching method where students are learning in real time, but instead of being in the classroom, they’re at home. Synchronous learning usually takes place via video conferencing. An example of synchronous learning would be attending a Zoom meeting.
- Asynchronous Learning: A teaching method where students learn on their own time. Asynchronous learning is student-directed. If a class is listed as asynchronous, you still have to do work, and may have to log on at a certain time, but you won’t be attending a teacher-directed lesson.
How it Works
The Catholic hybrid model works by giving students a mix of synchronous, asynchronous and in-person learning. Students take two subjects per quadmester, and each quadmester lasts roughly 10 weeks, or 2.5 months. The first quadmester ran from early September to mid-November.
When using the hybrid model, students still attend school every week, but instead of going daily, it is every other day, reducing the amount of time they will be in contact with other students. As well, in-person only occurs in the morning, for about 2.5 hours. In the afternoon, students attend school virtually for synchronous learning time with their other course. Every week, the course taken in-school and the course taken online switch, so that students get to interact with their teachers both in person and online over the course of the quadmester.
If his hybrid model sounds difficult to understand, trust me, it was even harder to get used to! At the start of September, I remember confusingly trying to navigate my schedule to no avail. What’s worse, I only knew my two immediate courses for the first quad – everything else was a mystery. This became even worse when my guidance counsellor emailed me saying that I couldn’t fit all my courses in, and that I had to take calculus in night school.
Although taking only two courses might seem simple, I found it to be quite the opposite. Since we only had two months to complete each course, I constantly felt overwhelmed with what I was learning. Even though my teachers removed several chapters of material, we were still working through the course at record speeds. It seemed like there was a mountain of tests, lab reports, and homework every single day! After the first semester, I felt really burnt out, and I had no time to catch a break because only one day after my exams for quad 1, I was thrown into quad 2.
Overall, I’ve had a somewhat negative experience with this style of learning so far. However, I’m only in my second quad right now, so I’m staying optimistic for the future! Hopefully by my 3rd and 4th quad, teachers will be able to make the workload more manageable and fix any issues with the hybrid learning system. Fingers crossed for 2021!