Introduction

While the concept of Hybrid pedagogy attracted attention during the pandemic, the notion has been around a lot longer. The term Hybrid has been applied to teaching and learning since around 2006 (Brian Beatty 2006). But the experience of the pandemic certainly placed a spotlight on Hybrid and remote teaching and learning modalities. According to a 2022 report from the research arm of Barnes & Noble Education, flexibility remains a key priority for students pursuing higher education. In a survey of 2,600 students, faculty and administrators at colleges and universities across the U.S., nearly half of students (49%) said they prefer a hybrid class format. In contrast, just 35% of faculty members said they favour a hybrid environment, and 54% preferred fully in-person instruction, which possibly indicates faculty experiences and perceptions of the challenges that teaching in a hybrid mode presents.

While hybrid is not the preferred mode of teaching at the University, the pandemic presented opportunities to explore and share approaches to this mode. These webpages are intended to share some of the challenges and opportunities that Hybrid teaching presents as well as insights into how you can plan to teach in a hybrid setup.

The pages are organised into

  • A definition of Hybrid Teaching and Learning
  • Hybrid Teaching Spaces
  • Planning for Hybrid
  • Managing a Hybrid Classroom
  • Recommendations for Students in a Hybrid Classroom.
  • Support and Additional Help with Hybrid teaching.

Refs:

Beatty, B. (2006, October). Designing the HyFlex World- Hybrid, Flexible Classes for All Students. Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communication and Technology International Conference, Dallas, TX.

Defining Hybrid Teaching and Learning

Hybrid teaching describes a situation where a lecturer is teaching a group of students physically present in a lecture or seminar venue, whilst other students are remote and join the same session using systems such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Remote students may also participate asynchronously if they are unable to attend synchronously. In some cases the lecturer or keynote speaker(s) may also join the session remotely.

There is more than one way to deliver hybrid teaching, and looking into class formats that combine on-campus and online students, a number of models have been described at many Higher Education institutions over the last 15 years or so.

The two variations that seem to be discussed most currently are the hybrid and hyflex (hybrid flexible) models.

Hybrid teaching refers to a model that integrates on-campus students and online students in activities that support intended learning outcomes. All students in a hybrid course typically undertake the same combination of online and in-person activities, whether synchronous or asynchronous. Within the hybrid format student typically belong either to the on-campus cohort, or to the online cohort and don't move between these.

In contrast, the hyflex model is one in which students are given the choice of how they participate in the course and engage with material in the mode that works best for them on any given day.

Each class session and learning activity is offered in-person, synchronously online, and asynchronously online. Students can decide how to participate for each class or activity.

Some Principles for Hybrid Teaching

Equivalence: Provide teaching activities in all participation modes that lead to equivalent learning opportunities and outcomes.

Reusability: Utilise artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as resources for all students

Accessibility: Designing teaching and learning materials and activities with accessibility in mind makes

This prototype suggests two variations on a hybrid model, the first uses pre-recorded lectures and the second uses live broadcast lectures. Both make use of hybrid seminars.

How students engage with their instructor, materials and peers depends on their modality.

Three possible modes for hybrid participation include on-campus, online synchronous and online asynchronous

Challenges

Hybrid can be difficult to do well initially and you can anticipate a learning curve before feeling comfortable delivering hybrid teaching.

  • Multi-tasking by the instructor – A teaching assistant can be invaluable to monitor online activity and assist with support requirements.
  • Re-design – You will probably need to re-design sessions to consider all participation modes.
  • Equipment – You will need additional IT and A/V equipment in the classroom. Especially with respect to audio, the room needs to be equiped with suitable microphones(s) and speakers so remote and on-campus participants can hear each other.
  • Time – Planning and running hybrid classes is more time consuming than conventional on-campus teaching.
  • Distractions - Having the remote students appear on screen and chat is potentially distracting for those in the room. 
  • Siloes - Remote students and on-campus students can become siloes. When the sessions involve more in-class discussion (rather than pair and group work) the remote participants feel more disconnected, especially if audio becomes problematic. Effort is needed to bring them back into the activity in the room. Remote participants have to concentrate very hard to stay engaged.
  • Infrastructure - There may be constraints such as sufficient charging points in rooms and potential wifi issues for a class using technology to interact with remote students.
  • Audio - The acoustic environment can be very different from room to room depending on the room surfaces, layout and the physical dimensions of the spaces. Hybrid installations will have to respond to the specific pedagogic requirements of each teaching space within specific acoustic characteristics.
  • Technical knowledge - The AV/IT hybrid installations can be complex to operate for teaching staff. Professional development will be critical if the AV/IT equipment are to be used effectively.

Opportunities

Hybrid appeals to students who find it difficult to attend a conventional on-campus model for whatever reasons e.g. work commitments, caring responsibilities, illness, travel disruption. Hybrid can facilitate instructional continuity during campus closures.

Students who take hybrid courses might start to demand the model (or similar flexibility) for other courses. For these and other reasons, more institutions might start to support hybrid as an optional course-delivery model. The hybrid model can increase demand for courses, enabling larger numbers of distant students to enrol.

Recommendations

Plan to run a fully virtual component before in-person instruction begins that should continue weekly to help everyone get to know each other’s faces and bridge the gap between on-campus and remote students.

A Teaching Assistant is essential. TAs could be remote,  the support of a virtual teaching staff member is ideal to experience the space as a remote student would, and better support their needs, while also helping the in-person teacher direct the class.

Where possible and appropriate, parts of the on-campus session could be recorded and made available via the VLE. Notes or summary points from the session would also be a useful resource for the remote students. There should be opportunities for those students to check their understanding and learning with the lecturer, for example through a follow up Q&A session.

Existing spaces need to be adapted e.g. lecture rooms with fixed seating and no mobility within the rooms, conducting group and pairwork required talking across space.  Turning around to talk is not comfortable for everyone and the more flexible these spaces are, the better.

Hybrid Spaces

Different hybrid spaces will make use of various interaction patterns between the instructor and the different modes of participation. As a result the hardware setup may be slightly different in each space to enable these interaction patterns.

Lecture Spaces

In traditional lecture spaces the lecture interaction pattern predominates i.e. the lecturer > student interaction in which a message transmitted by the lecturer to students who may ask or answer questions posed by the lecturer, but usually don't engage in discussion with their peers. This is the reason the lecture space has conventionally been set up with the lecturer at the front of the room, with rows of students all facing the front, which isn't conducive to group activities.

However, with the adoption of social learning tools, especially back-channel discussion or chat tools, it is easier than it used to be to enable student > lecturer interactions and student > student interactions in lecture spaces.

Contemporary lecture spaces may now include multiple display monitors placed strategically around the room, allowing students to be arranged in groupings where they still retain visibility of the lecturer and any materials being presented.

Microphones and speakers can ensure remote and on-campus students can hear each other when speaking.

Most existing lecture spaces will still be laid out in the traditional format and converting these to hybrid spaces is often a compromise between traditional and contemporary layouts.

Hardware

The lecturer podium should have a PC from which to present digital media. This will be a windows pc, so Mac users may have to familiarise themselves with the Windows interface. Ideally this will have a 'confidence monitor' for presenting materials, where the lecturer can see exactly what is visible to students, and a second monitor for student engagement, where the lecturer can see the remote students who are attending the lecture as well as any chat or discussion feed that is being used.

Cameras  placed in the room provide a view of the main display at the front of the room for remote students. These cameras may be suspended from the ceiling or mounted on the rear wall, providing the camera can zoom in sufficiently so remote students can see what is being presented.

A second camera may be installed to provide a view of the on-campus students for the benefit of those who are remote, giving them a sense of engagement with their peers, especially if there are comments or questions being made by the on-campus students.

Additional monitors may be placed around the lecture room so that on-campus students can enjoy a visual of their online peers, through the virtual meeting application being used.

There are various microphone options. the first is the use of a mobile radio microphones combination. this configuration provides a lapel mic for the lecturer, which is synchronised with a roaming mic that can be passed around between students. This allows more control over the audio in the room, but isn't conducive to larger group discussions.

The second option is a whole room microphone array, typically suspended from the ceiling. This is not really viable in larger spaces.

Applications

  • Live broadcast and recording software - Echo 360, including engagement features like Q&A and polls
  • Virtual meeting applications - Teams, Zoom, including screensharing, breakout rooms, whiteboards, backchannel chat
  • Presentation software - PPT, Keynote, Mentimeter

Tutorial / Seminar Spaces

Tutorials and seminars tend to be more interactive and student focused, involving more group discussion. groupings are more fluid, and interaction patterns can change quite frequently. the spaces are typically smaller than lecture spaces, and the hardware provision might differ as a result.

Students seated at dispersed islands and at conference tables

Hardware

As with lecture spaces, there should be a podium with a PC from which to present digital media. This will be a windows pc, so Mac users may have to familiarise themselves with the Windows interface. ideally this will have a 'confidence monitor' for presenting materials, where the lecturer can see exactly what is visible to students, and a second monitor for student engagement, where the lecturer can see the remote students who are attending the lecture as well as any chat or discussion feed that is being used.

Being smaller, one digital display at the front of the room will usually suffice. However this will be used for both presentation material, visibility of remote students, as well as the online chat, so judicious use of the virtual meeting software to toggle the different display modes will be necessary.

There are various microphone options. The first is the use of a mobile radio microphones combination. This configuration provides a lapel mic for the lecturer, which is synchronised with a roaming mic that can be passed around between students. this allows more control over the audio in the room, but isn't conducive to larger group discussions.

The second option is a whole room microphone array, typically suspended from the ceiling. This is not really viable in larger spaces.

Applications

  • Virtual meeting applications - Teams, Zoom, including screensharing, breakout rooms, whiteboards, backchannel chat
  • Presentation, polling and quizzing software such as PPT, Keynote and Mentimeter

 

Planning for Hybrid

As noted elsewhere, one of the key principles of hybrid teaching g is Equivalence: Provide teaching activities in all participation modes that lead to equivalent learning opportunities and outcomes.

When planning your teaching, consider the benefits of face-to-face learning and of online learning, and work to maximise both so that each of the on campus and online groups has a sense of being engaged and has an equitable experience.

For example, learning in-person can help build a sense of community and students have increased access to the teacher and each other, whereas online learning can foster a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility, but sometimes at the cost of feeling disconnected. One of the challenges is to bring a balance of learning types and activities into your course so that both modes of participation have an equitable experience. How can we promote student engagement by leveraging the characteristics of each mode?

It may be useful to start by take a step back and reviewing various aspects of your course, including:

  • The shape of your course in terms of learning activity types
  • The balance of your course in terms of synchronous and asynchronous activities. If you want to view this from the flipped learning perspective, you could consider the balance of the course in terms of activities in the individual space and the group space (see more on a Flipped Approach below)
  • The time requirements, which will often be more constrained in a hybrid approach.

ABC for Learning Design

The ABC for Learning Design methodology introduces a process to help reflect on the shape and balance of your course, and to make estimates of the time frames required for learning activities.  This is a sprint-design process that is usually facilitated by someone familiar with the methodology, but you can work through it yourself, or with a co-design team using the resources shared by abc-ld.org or contact the CoSS Learning Technologists for more information. The Learning and Innovation Support Unit (LISU) also runs workshops on the ABC for Learning Design methodology>

ABC Learning Design – Sprint design your courses and programs in just 90 minutes (abc-ld.org)

Read some cases studies from institutions who have used the ABC for Learning Design methodology.

A Flipped Approach Supports Hybrid

One way of working towards an equivalent experience for both modes of participation is to consider adopting a Flipped Learning approach. Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space (classroom) to the individual learning space (at home, in the library etc), and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter. For more information, see the Flipped Learning Network.

The individual space is used to provide students with materials to work through individually, engaging with content ahead of the group space. The materials reviewed prior to class can take the form of recorded lectures or podcasts, curated videos, reading assignments — any material that the instructor assigns to be relevant to the topic at hand. The flipped approach expects high student engagement, so design activities that stimulate students to engage with the materials or with their peers. However these should be achievable, lower-order cognitive tasks, and suitably scaffolded so that students come to the group space prepared to apply what they have already learned in the individual space. Note, individual space can still include social and active learning. For a catalogue of active learning ideas see this resources from Louisiana State University.

The group space is where students spend time with the instructor and get maximum benefit from that interaction. This is typically the lecture or tutorial / seminar but could also be a workshop, practical  or lab session. So start by thinking what's the best use of your face to face class is, and what the best way is for the instructor to engage the students in cognitively rich activities. Make it engaging and significant, not passive.

More time is available for small group work to address open questions, deepen knowledge or solve problems in the classroom. So consider using the group (on-campus or online synchronous) sessions for more interactive modes such as Q&A, small or large group discussion, simulations, case studies, debates etc.

Follow up activities in the 'post-class' space are used to consolidate learning and may include project and portfolio work or other long-term tasks.

Adapting Lessons for Hybrid

Designing hybrid courses and lessons invites us to think about how we might need to adapt existing lessons, lectures and tutorials to aim for an equitable experience and  leverage the characteristics of each mode using the best technology and tools available to us. The individual space does not have to consign students to lonely interaction with their materials, there is still scope for social learning in the individual space.

Likewise, aim to make the group space engaging through teaching and learning activities that require interaction.

In many instances this will mean taking classroom-based activities and adapting them to e-activities.

If students are unaccustomed to a hybrid mode, both the on-campus and online participants may feel reluctant to participate in ways that are new to them.

Gilly Salmon's 5-stage model is an example of a developmental process to onboard students into an online learning mode. This is also a useful reference for onboarding students to a hybrid mode and move from novices to confident participants in the hybrid class. With each stage the level of interactivity required increases. Learn more about this model at Five Stage Model - Gilly Salmon.

Examples of Hybrid Lesson Plans

It may be useful to see how others have planned their lessons for hybrid delivery. In this plan adapted from Beatty, B. J. (2019), the instructor has created the lesson plan with three columns to indicate what students in each of the participation modes will be expected to do during each activity.

Extract from a hybrid lesson plan showing instructions for different participation modes

Plan to Support Students in Your Hybrid Course

In addition to planning for onboarding students to the hybrid mode, students also benefit from ongoing access to the instructor, teaching assistants, administrative staff and support resources.

Communicate early about the hybrid course. Orientate your students to how the course will be taught, and provide expectations of your on-campus and remote students in terms of participation and the use of technology, collaboration, and hybrid etiquette.

Host virtual office hours that will accommodate on-campus and remote students alike.

Check-in with your learners:

  1. before the semester starts: survey your students to understand their needs, their access to technology, time differences and resources they will need for the course.
  2. during class sessions: pause to create space for students to ask questions and provide feedback; use concept checking questions through polls and quizzes e.g. Mentimeter to focus attention.
  3. early on or mid-semester: ask students to share what they think is working and any suggestions they have to support their remote or in-person learning.

 

 

Managing the Hybrid Class

A hybrid teaching scenario is difficult to manage in terms of the technology tools and pedagogical approaches to master. Once you have adapted your course for a hybrid mode, you will want to turn your attention to the tools and techniques to run the classes in the hybrid space.

A hybrid session almost certainly needs more than one instructor, presenter, or assistant to help with setting up and monitoring activities and troubleshooting if there are any technical difficulties.  It is good idea to plan to have an assistant, and to spell out their role in each of the class activities.

Tips for Hybrid Teaching and Engagement with All Students

Below are five tips for instructors who will be teaching hybrid courses where the majority of students will be participating in on-campus class sessions while a few students will be joining remotely. Try to plan with all students in mind, while being attentive to the needs and experiences of remote learners.

Know your classroom and set-up early

How will you use the physical classroom and the virtual learning environment to teach? What tools and instructional technologies will support your teaching and your students’ learning?

  • Visit and familiarise yourself with the physical classroom space, and the technology available to support teaching and learning.

#Still to develop: Getting Started guide to include checklists, tips for seminar/discussion-based courses and lecture-based courses, and contact information for support.

  • Test out the technology in your assigned classroom, including the camera settings and audio, to ensure that your remote students will be able to see and hear what is going on in the classroom. Be sure to check in with your students throughout the semester to ensure the technology settings are still working, and make any tweaks as necessary.
  • Plan how you will make the space and the technology work for you and your students. Have a contingency plan for when technology issues may arise. Communicate your plan to your students.
  • Know who to call in the event of technical setbacks.
  • Arrive early to synchronous classes to set-up your classroom technology, launch Zoom / Teams / Echo, select a camera pre-settings so that your remote students can see you, and do an audio check to ensure that your remote students can hear you.
  • Practice using the engagement apps you use e.g. Mentimeter, Miro, breakout rooms etc.
  • Monitor the time estimates you created for your lessons and decide whether these need to be adjusted as you go forward.

Create community

Being on campus provides a opportunities to connect, have spontaneous conversations, and engage students without technical barriers. Fully remote students may experience not just the physical distance but also a psychological one. Zoom fatigue is real, and online participation can lead to stimulus overload. Many remote student often feel under-supported and experience the 'lone wolf' syndrome. Keep these in mind as you consider your remote learners and how you can create a sense of community in the hybrid classroom.

Welcome all learners prior to the start of the course (through email or Moodle Announcements) and at every synchronous class session–greet on-campus students and look into the camera to greet remote learners, acknowledging their presence.

Use icebreaker activities to get on-campus and remote students interacting and familiar with some of their peers. Such activities can take place asynchronously in Moodle or synchronously during class sessions via Zoom / Teams Echo 360 etc (note: this may require that your on-campus students bring a mobile device and headset).

Set the tone by establishing a community agreement that outlines expectations of on-campus and remote students. This will guide the interactions that you have in the hybrid space.

Plan to engage all of your students

Plan activities that are accessible to remote and in-person students. Review the section on Planning for Hybrid for ideas on how to structure your course and lessons to stimulate engagement.

Select technologies, tools, and activities that will support the class learning goals and support student engagement – whether using Echo 360, Zoom or Teams, create opportunities for your remote students to engage with their on-campus peers during synchronous sessions. Backchannel chats and tools like Mentimeter with breakout rooms can provide ways to have your on-campus and online students interacting in group discussions and team quizzes.

Learning Through Online Discussion (columbia.edu)

When posing questions, pause to give all students time to engage, check the chat for contributions, repeat student questions, and acknowledge responses from remote and on-campus students. Consider using collaborative digital spaces to which all students can contribute, whether as a whole class or in small groups.