Teaching Notes: How do I manage hybrid teaching?

It’s exciting having many of our students back on campus so we can again move back to some face-to-face teaching. However, ongoing restrictions, social distancing requirements, room capacities and the option for students who aren’t well or who are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection to not attend means that some of our students will still be learning online. So how can you manage teaching both online and face-to-face without creating two separate topics?

The answer: hybrid teaching

Hybrid teaching is the term coined for facilitating classes synchronously for students both in the room with you and for those attending via Collaborate. Running hybrid classes was suggested in our July issue and there are four main considerations:

  • Planning
  • Technology
  • During class
  • After class

The Tip sheet – Running hybrid classes unpacks this in much more detail but these considerations aside, what is it really like to manage this type of teaching? I’ve done a lot of hybrid teaching over the past few months and along with some others I’ve spoken to, here are some additional practical tips for getting going:

Plan and manage it like an online class
Facilitating students in the room may be second nature for many of us but in the online environment, planning is key. Think first and foremost about the learning activities you will have for your synchronous online students and plan for this. Then consider how you will simultaneously facilitate it in the classroom. It’s straightforward to put students in a room into small groups but will require some additional planning to do it in Collaborate. Likewise, if you are incorporating quizzes and web links (e.g. to videos, polls etc) into the class, planning for it to be available for synchronous online students means it is also easily available for those in-class. If all your students choose to join via Collaborate (for whatever reason), you can still successfully run the class as you have planned it that way.

Have a Plan B (and C and D)…
Consider your strategy in case of technological failure (e.g. the PowerPoint stops sharing in FLO; you lose audio/video; online students drop out). Having a copy of the plan for the lesson, the PowerPoint and the lesson’s activities available on FLO before the class will help all the students stay on track irrespective of any technological issues that might arise. Consider what other resources you might need to have. For example:

  • If the camera or audio fails in the room, ensure you have brought your laptop (+ webcam) with you so you can teach using this instead.
  • If your poll / quiz fails would a paper / Word version work as well? Or could you quickly put the poll into Collaborate instead?
  • Carry a spare battery with you in case the mouse fails in the room (or a spare mouse) – this happened recently and the keyboard did not incorporate a mouse!
  • Record the lesson in Collaborate so that students can access later if they have connectivity issues (or you do).

Use a microphone
Many teaching spaces have good audio reception, but it can still be hard for students joining online to hear everything. Take advantage of the room microphones and pass the hand-held microphone around when students are speaking. This ensures everyone can hear the discussion.

Actively engage your online students first
When having classroom discussions, go to the online students first for contributions. It can be challenging for online students to break into a classroom-based discussion, so by starting the discussion online you are ensuring that those students can be heard and actively engaged. Remember that the ‘silences’ waiting for online students to speak can feel (and sometime be) longer than in the classroom. Be patient and wait for the contributions. If none are forthcoming, ask someone to contribute. With small group discussions, remember to have each group allocate a speaker so that everyone knows who is responsible for sharing back to the class.

Make use of collaborative documents
Using One Drive or Google documents (or similar) means that students online and in the class can contribute to the same document (e.g. where you might otherwise use butcher’s paper or a whiteboard). If students have brought a laptop or other device to class, they can access links to documents alongside the online students to work collaboratively.

Managing hybrid classes can be challenging but with some preparation and patience, it is actually a versatile and fun way to teach.

Cassandra Hood
Academic Developer – CILT

Posted in
Good practice guide Teaching Notes

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