- The teacher and some of the students attend a teaching event in person while others participate remotely.
- The teacher participates remotely while students are present in a physical classroom space.
- Some students and the teacher participate remotely while others attend the class in person from a campus location.
– These are all examples of hybrid teaching.
In this tip, the term hybrid teaching refers to a classroom session that is attended remotely by some participants and in person by others. Regardless of how they attend the class, all the participants form a unified group.
Hybrid teaching may be a good option if the group is otherwise able to meet on campus but some of the participants are prevented from coming to campus. This may be a temporary arrangement (for example, due to health reasons) or a permanent arrangement (offered, for example, to international students). Important software or other necessary resources may only be available from a campus location, and it may be necessary to offer access to these resources at least to some of the students. If there is no special reason for the delivery of hybrid teaching, you may want to consider whether it would be more in keeping with the principle of equality of opportunity to deliver teaching remotely to all the students.
This tip lists the main points you should take into account when planning a hybrid class.
What should I take into account?
Before your hybrid class:
You will need at least a computer and an app or software that students will use to attend the session remotely. In addition, you will need internet access, a microphone, a presentation board and speakers. Using your own laptop is recommended, because all the necessary software will be installed on it by default and you will be familiar with them. You should also consider whether you want the remote participants to see the entire group or only the presenter. A separate camera and microphone will improve the quality of video and audio for the remote participants. Inquire in advance about the equipment available in your reserved space and, if necessary, the equipment available on loan.
Set up the classroom so that everyone can see the remote participants and are close enough to the microphone and webcam. If there is a large number of students attending the session in person, consider how you will ensure that the remote participants can hear all the questions and discussions. Will you repeat the questions into the microphone or circulate the microphone in the classroom?
If the teacher attends the session remotely, he or she should designate some of the in-person attendees to set up the connections in the classroom. Make sure they are able to log in to the classroom computer or otherwise manage the connections. Alternatively, arrange a staff member to come and set up the connections.
Before the session, instruct the students about at least the following points:
- the necessary equipment
- software, virtual address of the virtual meeting room and sign-in instructions
- preferred types of interaction: chat, icons, camera on or off, requesting the floor, online collaboration tools
- add a document describing the structure of the session as well as the learning materials and assignments to a virtual learning environment in advance, in case there are technical problems during the virtual session.
Consider in advance how to instruct students to deal with possible technical problems. If individual students experience technical problems, you should not interrupt the session or take up the entire group’s time trying to solve the issues. Instead, tell the students in advance what they should do if they are unable to sign in, their connection drops or their microphone/camera is not working. Sometimes connection issues may prevent a student from participating in a virtual teaching session. How will you manage this problem? Even if it is important to attend the session, what can students do to study the materials independently if their connection drops? What if the teacher’s internet connection drops?
Sharing and storing materials:
If possible, share the learning materials in advance. Then students can consult and work with the materials even if they are suddenly unable to join the virtual session. If there is only one screen available and you present materials, the remote viewers may be unable to take part in the class discussion. You should therefore use two screens or designate some other participant to keep an eye on the chat window.
Use collaborative digital platforms instead of a physical whiteboard or flip chart, which may appear blurred to the remote viewers. You can use, for example, the online facilitation tools, such as Flinga or a shared document, so that the remote participants can also provide input.
You must tell the participants in advance if the session will be recorded. You must also consider what is included in the recording. Would it be better not to record the class discussion to encourage more students to share their thoughts? You must also tell your students in advance how the recording will be shared.
Group work and interaction:
During a hybrid teaching session, there will ideally be one person monitoring the in-person attendees and another the remote attendees. This will ensure that technical problems, questions and comments are quickly brought to the teacher’s attention. The designated person can also be a student. If the same group meets several times, students can take turns monitoring the attendees.
When cameras are turned on during a virtual class, it increases a sense of community and presence, but remember to consult the guidelines for using video during remote teaching and inform your students of these guidelines, too. You can also instruct the participants to only keep their cameras turned on when they introduce themselves and act as presenters or during small group work.
The chat is an important communication channel for the remote participants, and you can encourage them to use the chat to help each other out. You can also use an external communication channel, which is not included in your virtual conferencing platform, to facilitate interaction. Both the in-person and remote attendees can type questions to a chat window or an online whiteboard that the teacher checks every once in a while.
By using different tools and activities that encourage students to participate and provide input, you can include short breaks in the session and foster a sense of community within the group. Ask students to share their opinions by creating a questionnaire or a word cloud of the key concepts. Encourage the class to generate ideas and insights, write them on a wall and vote for their favourite. Create a mindmap of the key concepts. The in-person attendees can use, for example, their phones to take part in the collaborative online activities. These tools can also be used to write down the ideas and insights that students create while working in small groups.
When the students are divided into small groups, the teacher can also join the remote groups to see how they are doing. If the teacher attends the session in person, he or she should occasionally join the remote groups using, for example, a headset and a different computer or phone, so as not to disturb the in-person attendees.
During a hybrid class, it is important that all the group members feel they are able to contribute equally and that no one feels like an outsider regardless of whether they are attending the class in person or remotely.