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Diocese of Toowoomba Catholic Schools

Hybrid Learning – the new frontier

The Hybrid learning program team at the TCS Excellence Awards

When asked 'how can we offer Specialist Maths to students when we don't have a teacher for that subject', rather than say 'we can't', principals and teachers rallied together so that the answer was 'we can'.

A new way, an exciting transformational way, is emerging and Toowoomba Catholic Schools (TCS) are at the forefront of this innovation. Hybrid learning is making it possible to offer subject equity across schools in our Diocese, allowing every student to experience academic success in subjects that may not have otherwise been available to them.

Through using the trialled and collaboratively developed Hybrid learning framework, students have the opportunity to choose specialist subjects that are taught by expert teachers.  These highly skilled teachers design and deliver engaging and tailored learning programs that include face to face, online and independent learning. By delivering chosen specialist subjects in this way, no matter the location of the students, they have the same opportunity and access to working together with students from their own and other schools, working independently and receiving ‘just in time’ feedback and direct teaching.

As a result, the traditional way of delivering subjects in our schools is being reshaped and students are enthusiastically engaging in this new approach. By combining the power of digital tools with pedagogies (teaching strategies) that support such tools, students have flourished.

Clearly emerging as a new ‘way’ of teaching, Hybrid learning is underpinned by contemporary dialogue that promotes collegiality in the learning environment. Participation in Hybrid learning is providing students with the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes which are relevant to and recognised within a wide range of employment, training and further education settings. They become self-directed, active participants in the learning process and it increases the amount of control they have over their learning.

A program team was established and they have worked collaboratively towards achieving the overall success of Hybrid learning and ensuring its place into the future. They have provided their expertise, context, and support to ensure the delivery of the project's objectives, to identify potential opportunities and risks, validate solutions, and make recommendations to the Steering Committee for the future growth of Hybrid learning. With a shared commitment to the system's benefits and a focus on collaboration, the team worked without ego to achieve their goals.

Each member came with a unique piece of wisdom, and their ability to think beyond their school context to a system-wide approach has been instrumental in enabling a vision for TCS Hybrid learning. The team's attendance in person or online for workshopping the Hybrid learning vision was crucial to making it a reality and ensured it has become a sustainable part of TCS's future.

This is just one example of the innovative practices happening within TCS - bringing our mission of academic success for all to life. 

What subjects are available?

Hybrid learning programs are currently available for the following subjects.

  • Specialist Mathematics for Year 11 and Year 12
  • Advanced Mathematics for Year 10
  • Modern History for Year 11 and 12
  • Legal Studies for Year 11 and 12

Modules under development for commencement in 2024.

  • Aerospace systems

Who is part of the Hybrid learning program team?

  • Sharon Collins from St Saviour’s College Toowoomba
  • Tyron Fraser from Our Lady of the Southern Cross College Dalby
  • Rodney Spain from Our Lady of the Southern Cross College Dalby
  • Mark Watson from St Mary's College Toowoomba
  • Mary Roberts from St Joseph's School Stanthorpe
  • Kylie Millar from St Patrick’s Primary School Mitchell
  • Keith Blaikie from St Patrick's School Allora
  • Miranda Murray from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School Toowoomba
  • Joel Speranza, Rosie Bugg, Annette Gannaway, Chris Golightly, Paul Murphy, Marty Savage, Steve Joslin, Jonathan Outerbridge, Kyle Quinlan, Joanna Holden and Paul Herbert from Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office.

The project team that led this innovative solution were acknowledged at the 2023 Excellence Awards. 

Spotlight on some of key teachers involved in the Hybrid learning program

Mary Roberts, Middle Leader and Teacher from St Joseph's School, Stanthorpe

Mary has played a significant role in the evolution of Hybrid learning at St Joseph’s School, Stanthorpe. Mary was instrumental in working with the leadership team to initiate a pilot of the Modern History hybrid learning program with Our Lady of the Southern Cross College, Dalby, and more recently, leading the transition of this established model to be a part of the TCS Hybrid learning framework. As such, Mary was invited to share her expertise about the future direction of Hybrid learning across TCS as part of the TCS project team. Further to this, Mary supports the Legal Studies hybrid learning students at St Joseph’s School, lending her expertise and experiences in delivering Hybrid learning to ensure that these students are confident and successful in this style of learning.

Tyron Fraser, Pastoral Leader: Student Engagement from Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Dalby

Tyron teaches Legal Studies and he has been involved in the Hybrid learning project from the beginning. He has helped shape what teaching in a hybrid classroom looks like in terms of delivery of teaching, assessment, and building collaborative relationships with students. Hybrid teaching has completely transformed his practice and delivery as he has had to reimagine how his teaching is delivered as he is not in the room for a good percentage of his students. His use and knowledge of Canvas has increased and he leverages it and AI to maximise outcomes for his students. Tyron believes the classrooms of tomorrow will look very much like what his does now and he has benefited enormously from the experience of teaching not just at his school but across three schools with students with different views and ways of doing things. It is a dynamic and exciting environment in which to work and he has loved the challenges Hybrid learning has thrown at him.

Mark Watson, Assistant Principal – Curriculum from St Mary’s College, Toowoomba

Mark has completed post-graduate study in Learning Experience Design (LxD) and has a keen interest in understanding and incorporating best practices for teaching in digital environments.  He feels all students can benefit from the embedding of technology in the learning experiences we design and teach.  Mark joined the Hybrid Learning team to consider how the opportunities afforded to students in Toowoomba could be shared with students across the diocese and believes Hybrid Learning is a key way to achieve equity for students living remotely.

Joel Speranza, Specialist Maths Hybrid Learning Teacher from Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office

Joel joined the TCS office at the beginning of 2023 to deliver Specialist Mathematics using our Hybrid learning framework. He delivers this program to Year 11 and 12 students from St Joseph’s School, Stanthorpe, St Saviour’s College, Toowoomba and Our Lady of the Southern Cross College, Dalby. Due to the success of this program, the introduction of a Hybrid learning Extension Mathematics course for Year 10 students was fast-tracked and was delivered in Semester 2, 2023, with eight secondary schools and 60 students electing to participate.

The success of this program has seen a dramatic increase in enrolments for the 2024 Hybrid Specialist Mathematics program.


Paul Herbert, Education Officer from Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office

Paul has been instrumental in advocating for Hybrid Learning and has worked with a select group of innovative principals, since early 2019, to bring the project to fruition. He is driven by the idea that attempts to re-create the classroom learning experience, methods, and modes to the online environment is a basic error. Teaching online requires a "start over" in your course design, though not necessarily a change in student learning outcomes. As a result, the Diocesan approach has three key elements, each as vital as the other. These elements involve the relational, the pedagogical and the digital. A significant advantage of the TCS approach is that relationships are not lost, in fact, relationships are key and students report that they know their hybrid teacher better than they know their face to face teachers. Pedagogical practices have evolved to suit the hybrid environment and teachers have indeed ‘started over’. Hybrid teaching is not simply replicating traditional approaches but adapting pedagogy to ensure the development of positive interdependence in students. Finally, digital practices need to ensure that they suit the other two elements, relational and pedagogical. This approach ensures that the TCS Hybrid learning model is unique in its approach.

Joanne Holden, Education Officer from Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office

Joanna is a highly accomplished teacher of Mathematics. She embraced the Diocesan concept of hybrid learning, especially the need to 'start over'. Her embrace of the relational, the pedagogical and the digital was vital in her successfully piloting the first truly Hybrid learning pilot in the Diocese. Her innovative approach and willingness to completely revamp her teaching practice ensures spectacular results with her students. Her dedicated professionalism ensured the Hybrid learning model pilot was successful and clearly showed that Hybrid learning was a valuable and in many ways a preferable, solution to the problems faced by the Diocese in delivering specialized subjects to small cohort classes in remote and regional settings.

Pictured below are Joanne Holden and Paul Herbert.

Spotlight on students involved in Hybrid learning

Students benefit from Hybrid learning by becoming members of a broader and more diverse classroom and are able to interact and share with peers from different schools. They get the benefit of experiencing what it would be like to work within a big corporation that has workspaces across different locations - giving them real-world life lessons in collaboration and teamwork. They have also benefited from collaborative relationships they have built with students from other schools across the Diocese. Online students have been able to thrive in being masters of their own learning by having the support of well-constructed Canvas pages to work from and a supportive teacher to fall back on when they have questions or need assistance. Coupled with face to face days once a term, these students are thriving.

“Hybrid has been a great learning experience” Taylah, Year 12

“I had Mrs Roberts at school, so didn’t have to learn online but the Hybrid Days were great to collaborate with Dalby, I loved meeting new people from other schools and working with them” – Hannah, Year 12

“It helped to work on our independent study skills while having a teacher available to help out as well.” Bronte, Year 12

What is the future of Hybrid learning?

The success of students and the passion of expert teachers has ensured the future of Hybrid learning for TCS. With more and more schools investing in this approach and more and more students wanting to enrol, the subjects being offered are expanding and numbers in classes are growing too. Coupled with the current teacher shortage and the fact that it is harder and harder to get a teacher to work outside of metropolitan areas, TCS believes that Hybrid learning will be a hallmark of the future of schooling. Teachers wanting to advance not only their teaching practice but to be ready for the school of tomorrow, will ‘want in’ on the opportunity to work in the dynamic teaching and learning environment Hybrid learning offers.