When designing your course, try to choose the best teaching method. Hybrid teaching is one solution and it can work, however other methods can work even better. Instead of (only) offering hybrid classes, you can also choose to offer a combination of offline and online classes. For example, you can give large lectures online and smaller working groups offline ánd online (for the international students or students who are sick). In this way, you don't need to implement a hybrid design. However, if you do want to use a hybrid design, we can offer you some tips and tricks.
Hybrid teaching requires a different design than online teaching or in-class teaching. Before you are standing in front of your hybrid class, here are some tips and tricks to help you prepare:
- Manage the expectations of students well in advance. For example, communicate the reasoning behind your choice for a hybrid design instead of an online or in-class design and to what extent that affects the attendance choices of students. Can they choose to join online or in-class whenever or are there rules they need to abide by? Make sure that both groups understand what hybrid learning will mean for them and how they can get the most out of it.
- Prepare both your online and physical classroom to accommodate your hybrid education. Choose and set-up a video tool that you feel comfortable working with. For example, Microsoft Teams and Zoom work with separate windows for webcams, which may come in handy if you want to use one screen for your presentation and another to show the webcams. Using two screens may help your students focus on either the presentation or the interaction. Your physical classroom needs at least one webcam and microphone. Where you place the webcam and microphone depends on who will do most of the talking (you or the students in-class), what needs to be visible, and what the table set-up will be.
- Change your planning. Hybrid teaching and learning can be more exhausting than non-hybrid teaching (i.e. online or on campus only). Moreover, interacting with hybrid groups can take more time. Make sure you plan accordingly. Schedule more time for active learning than you normally would and prioritize activities geared to the main learning objectives.
- Plan (more) breaks. Especially the online students will need more frequent breaks. Go for a 10-minute break after each 50-60 minutes of hybrid teaching so both groups can keep their attention focused.
- Choose your teaching activities carefully. Interacting with your students online and in-class takes more time, so make sure that the interaction goes smoothly and helps your students achieve the objectives. For every situation you can apply a different teaching activity.
- Share your PowerPoint in advance. This ensures that the online students can also follow the presentation during your lecture (even if there is a small video delay).
- Let students prepare in advance. You can save time by having students prepare questions or assignments in advance.
- Consider in your design how you will connect the online group with the students in-class. Students online may feel like they aren’t part of the class and students in-class may be less patient towards students online. Thinking in advance on how you can create a feeling of community can minimize this issue. Do you have a group assignment in the course? Then you may want to create mixed groups where students online are mixed with students in-class. You can also use one or more icebreakers.
- Create a technical storyboard and do a quick run through. In your technical storyboard you think of the technological steps you need to take to keep the students involved. When and how will you use what tool (PowerPoint, whiteboard, videos, polling tools, etc.) and how will you and your students switch smoothly from one to the other? Running through your technical storyboard will also give you some idea of any possible delays. Planning breaks before a switch from one tool to the next can help you run your class smoothly. You can use this template to create your own technical storyboard.
- Work together on your hybrid design. Discuss your design with a colleague, an educational adviser, and/or students from last year to get feedback. Moreover, experiencing hybrid education from a colleague or participating in a hybrid meeting can also give you an idea of what does and doesn’t work in a hybrid situation.
The next part is implementing your hybrid design: Let the multitasking begin. The key is to actively and continuously divide your attention over both groups. These tips and tricks may help you in doing that:
- Use a (student) moderator to help you manage the students online, for example by setting up breakout rooms (in advance), filtering questions from the chat, alerting you on raised hands, and/or solving small technical issues. The (student) moderator will bring his/her own laptop, so that he/she can participate in the online lecture. For more information, read this page.
- Be there on time. Before the class starts, open the video lecture tool, your PowerPoint presentation, and maybe even an external polling tool. It is recommended to use the classroom computer instead of your own laptop. Also, check your audio and connectivity right at the start (or sooner, if possible). Check if both in-class and online students can hear you.
- Face the classroom when you talk. If you talk with your face towards the whiteboard or the PowerPoint presentation, the online students will not be able to hear you.
- Connect with students in-class and online. Greet both the students in-class and online, remember to look into the webcam from time to time to create a sense of eye contact, and alternate between the students online and in-class to answer or ask a question. You can subtly remind yourself with a comment or image on a slide or a yellow post-it on the webcam. If possible, ask students online to log in with their first name, so that you can address them directly.
- Start your hybrid education with an agreement on interaction. Discuss and encourage the use of webcams with both students in-class and the students online. Students will likely be more engaged in interaction when everyone is visible. Note, however, that students online and in-class have the right to stay out of camera sight for privacy or other reasons. Plan question time after (short) explanations to include online students. By separating explanations and questions, you give online students with less connectivity enough time to formulate questions. Explain how you will interact with students (e.g., calling out names, using quiz tools). Discuss how both in-class and online students can respond, ask questions and/or comment (unmute, speak up, raise (virtual) hand, use the chat).
- Use breaks before, during, and after class for informal activities with the online students. By putting students online in breakout rooms during breaks, you can create a similar break experience as the students in-class have. In Zoom there is an option where you can allow students to choose a breakout room, so they can join other students they know and want to chat with. You may want to be available in a separate breakout room as well for students who want to have an individual chat with you before or after class.
- Repeat questions from in-class students. Otherwise, there is a chance that the online students cannot hear the question and don't understand your answer to the question.
- Ask questions to one specific group. Specifically ask your question to the online students or the in-class students. Otherwise, it might be unclear which group is being addressed, which can lead to no one answering the question or both groups start talking at the same time.
- Set up a buddy system if there are only a few online students. Ask which in-class students have a laptop (perhaps even a headset) and are willing to be a buddy to an online student. Pair these students from the start so that they can communicate during group assignments. Keep in mind that the students who are buddies do some multitasking as well and may miss small parts of the meeting.
- Split up the two groups during group assignments if there are a lot of online students. Due to the audio and internet connection in the classroom, mixing groups in one classroom can be difficult. Therefore, put the online students in breakout rooms and let the in-class students discuss with their neighbor(s).
- Share links to videos in the chat. If the video doesn't work for the online students, they can open the video on their own device and watch it in their own time. The moderator can help you with this.
- Be excruciatingly patient. Wait five seconds (some even say ten) after asking a question to take into account the possible internet delay of the students online and their thinking time. This means that your students in-class need to be patient as well. Varying your teaching activities can help you keep the pace. For example, by letting students nominate a student that will summarize after a group discussion or using a shared online whiteboard where students can enter their responses.
For more tips and tricks about stimulating interactivity during your hybrid class, such as asking questions to the entire class or working on small group assignments, please read this quick guide by ICLON.