There will be restrictions on the numbers of students you can have in a classroom during Semester 2. Considering this, you may be wondering how you are going to organise your seminars, tutorials, labs and other classes.
For some, the return to face to face teaching will not be feasible and online delivery will still prevail. For others, particularly first year, final year and lab-based classes, where these can be accommodated a combination of online and in person delivery will be the way forward, also known as hybrid classes.
Hybrid classes, simply put, involve synchronously delivering sessions to students who are in the room with you and to others who are elsewhere but attending online (using Collaborate).
Hybrid classes, like all teaching, require careful planning. Indeed, running these classes may be more challenging than it initially seems. On the flip side, it can also be more rewarding for both you and your students, with some teaching staff reporting students who are always quiet in on campus sessions being much more active in Collaborate sessions.
The key points when considering hybrid classes are: be prepared; ensure you have the right equipment in the room; you have practised and are familiar with the technology; and you have given your teaching approach consideration so you are catering to students in the room and those participating through Collaborate, and the activities you have designed are appropriate in both settings.
Check the technology that is available in the room. Some rooms will allow you to use Collaborate because they are set up for web-conferencing and the cameras in the room are able to stream and record. Other rooms will require you to set up your laptop, which will mean those attending remotely can only see your screen and you. Your local eLearning team will also have access to limited quantities of audio equipment to facilitate high quality access for your ‘remote’ participants. You may also need to ask students on campus to bring a device so they can access resources you wish to use during the session.
Depending on the activities you have in mind, students attending online will need to navigate across multiple screens on their devices to: view documents you have specifically prepared (such as case studies or group activities); access your FLO site; participate in activities you wish to record in FLO (e.g. a vote, short quiz or something similar); or access other materials they need while undertaking structured activities or working in groups. Importantly, you should have a backup plan in case the technology fails, for example recording the session and having off-line activities students can complete. You can reinforce the classroom experience through good online practices, like having students share output from inquiry, investigations or reflections, in your FLO site through discussion forums or wikis.
It is also important to let students know, regardless of their attendance method, there is still an expectation to come to class. For students who cannot attend in person, you should communicate that they need to be prepared to attend via Collaborate, that they may need to get hold of a headset and that they test the equipment and practice using it beforehand. It may be worthwhile setting up a class ‘room’ on Collaborate for students to undertake testing. Indeed, you might consider asking students to think about their ability to use video – where bandwidth permits – so they have a classroom ‘presence’ in the physical room, and so the other students can see and engage with them.
Your preparations need to include consideration of what aspects of the sessions relate to information that can be delivered via a video or a short paragraph on FLO, prior to the session. It is important to break your content into discreet, specifically focussed ‘chunks’ to aid student focus (whether delivered via video, on FLO or within this hybrid format).
Determine how you are going to manage student attendance on campus. If the room has limited numbers students will need to let you know in advance how they are attending, and you may need to request that some use Collaborate. Also make it very clear, they must let you know well in advance if their attendance is going to change, so you can ensure your lesson plans are not compromised. Consider whether it is appropriate to record the session and if you do, make sure you capture the chat. That will make the whole recording more holistic, enhance the ability to capture teaching and learning ‘in the moment’, and enable students with technological problems to catch up on the class later.
Consider in advance how you intend to engage students online and in class (how will you manage groups online?) Allow yourself extra time to manage both contexts and bring students together in meaningful, appropriate ways. Be clear to all students how you will manage the session and what you expect of them. If possible, ask a colleague to provide support the first couple of times you run sessions so they can help troubleshoot and generally ensure you are providing equal attention to students in the room and those in Collaborate (this could be a reciprocal arrangement). Alternatively, ask a student in the room to monitor chat and rotate this role. After the session, if it was recorded go through the recording to check if you missed anything important before posting it, the chat and any further comments or information to FLO.
Dr Ann Luzeckyj
Senior Academic Developer – CILT
Learning Designer – CILT