What is hybrid teaching?
Hybrid teaching is where a teacher is teaching face-to-face in a classroom and online and the same time. The remote students could be in a different room on campus, or in different locations. It could also be that the teacher is in remote location and is teaching some students gathered in a classroom and others in remote locations.
Why is hybrid teaching sometimes necessary?
The obvious current answer is that Covid-19 and the various restrictions related to it make it difficult for some students and lecturers to attend on-campus lectures, yet on-campus sessions may be the preference of both staff and students. But beyond this, hybrid teaching also makes it possible to beam in a remote speaker from anywhere in the world, or link multiple rooms on campus.
Although hybrid teaching can include many of the typical in-class activities such as group work, this article will focus on the example of a live lecture with the opportunity for students to ask questions and have discussions.
What technology is used?
Many of the teaching spaces on campus have been equipped for event capture, which means that they have a lectern PC connected to speakers, a ceiling microphone and in many rooms, a camera. This equipment can be used together with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra so that students can join the session remotely, both to listen in but also to interact with those in the classroom.
The simplest set up requires no extra equipment than what is already in the room, however some find it useful to set up their laptop with the Collaborate room open, just to check that everything is running as they are expecting. It is also possible to use the visualiser in the classroom, should it be needed.
Planning a hybrid teaching session
As with many things in digital education, planning the session is crucial.
Keep the session simple, explain to the students that there will be participants both in the classroom and online, and let them know how they can communicate with you, wherever they are located. If you know you will be in a large room, consider using Mentimeter to take questions from students, as the remote students may not be able to hear the students at the back of the room. Mentimeter is also a great tool for simultaneous polling, word clouds and other activities, as all the students can access it easily. For more information see ‘Using Mentimeter with Collaborate to facilitate questioning in hybrid teaching’.
Some activities which usually take place in a class may be more challenging to manage with two groups of students, so planning what to do in the live session and perhaps which activities need to be set up asynchronously is key to a good learning and teaching experience.
How to set up the technology
For a short version of this section, we have also created a Hybrid teaching checklist.
Set up the Collaborate session and let the students know how and when to access the session. Consider which tools you need the students to access for the session, and which sound notifications you would like to hear during the session. For example, you could turn off the chat and all sound notifications other than ‘Raise Hand’, and explain to the students online that they can raise their hand if they have a question. Make sure you explain clearly to the students what to expect in the session, and how you prefer they communicate with you.
Familiarise yourself with the ‘Audio and Video’ section on the Blackboard Collaborate Help pages; should there be any sound issues in the room, this section shows you how to deal with them quickly.
If you are using any other programmes such as Mentimeter, prepare the quiz or slides you intend to use.
At the start of the session
Start the lectern PC as normal, and check if the speakers in the room are on by clicking on the ‘speaker’ icon in the bottom left hand corner of the screen and adjusting the sound level, which should make a brief sound.
Join the Collaborate session using Google Chrome. If you are prompted by Chrome to permit Collaborate to access your microphone and camera, accept both. Then check that your microphone and camera work in Collaborate by turning on the microphone and checking with the remote students, or by going to the settings, selecting ‘test your camera and microphone’. This is also where you change any microphone or video input, if it is not working.
Check that the students in Collaborate can hear the students in the room, particularly the ones furthest away from the microphone. Social distancing rules permitting, encourage students to sit as close to the lectern as possible.
Once you have established that Collaborate is working, turn on the screen sharing and select the lectern PC screen. This will allow the remote students to see everything that happens on the lectern screen, and for example if you are using PowerPoint, you only need to change slides on the lectern PC.
Using the visualiser is a little more complex, as you would need to use the ‘Share Camera’ function in Collaborate. Switching between visualiser and PowerPoint means you need to keep changing what you are sharing in Collaborate as well as on the projector.
If you are playing any videos in the session, please remember that when you set up the screen sharing, you also need to tick the ‘Share Audio’ option.
If the session needs to be recorded, start the recording in Collaborate.
Set up the PowerPoint presentation or any other teaching materials you are going to use in the session and turn on the projector. You are now ready to start.
During the session
If you have set up a laptop to access the Collaborate room, you can do a quick visual check that everything is running fine. Otherwise just check in with the remote students occasionally during the session to see if all is okay and if they have any questions.
Remember to turn off the microphone in Collaborate if you are screen sharing and showing a video, or the remote students will get the sound twice.
If you have instructed the students in Collaborate to raise their hands, but you are not able to see who has raised their hand, explain this to the students, and ask if they can just briefly say who they are when they switch on the mic to ask questions.
At the end of the session
Turn off the recording in Collaborate and exit the Collaborate session. Close any other applications and sign out of the lectern PC as usual.
If you would like to learn more about how to use Collaborate, the Collaborate User Guide for Staff is a good place to start. The LDC also run regular training sessions which we recommend if you are a new user.
For more information about Mentimeter, see the Mentimeter section on the LIU webpage.
If you would like to have a chat with someone from the LIU about your session, please feel free to email the FET.LIU@uwe.ac.uk email address.