Hybrid Teaching Toolkit

By Tom Buckley, Digital Learning Manager in HAS. For teaching staff and technicians looking for guidance on how to adopt hybrid approaches to their teaching within HAS for 2021/22.

Toolkit Resources

One page printable Guide to hybrid teaching
One page printable guide to using Panopto Webcasting
Web guide on how to set up a hybrid teaching session using BB Collaborate and monitor the chat using the lectern PC
Web guide to using a document camera in Blackboard Collaborate during a hybrid session

This resource will primarily look at extending the classroom to individuals or groups participating online. For mainly didactic sessions. To be able to this you must have a basic knowledge of the systems you are planning to use to broadcast with. So, pre-requisites for this guide would be:

The pre-requisite will depend on the system you are intending to use to hybridise your delivery. This choice should be dictated by what you are already using for the online teaching components. So if you are using Collaborate or Teams for your online classes use Collaborate or Teams for hybridising the classroom. Panopto is here as an option primarily for those that want to record their sessions and stream one way without much opportunity for interaction. It is by far the easiest extension of your classroom but also the most limited.

Hybridising a didactic session

Our current hybridising of classrooms works well for didactic content. Broadcast is well supported as the infrastructure we are using is based on our prior need to lecture capture. Questions from the floor will need to be repeated for the online audience by someone in range of the microphone you have chosen to use.

You will need to devise a way for engaging the online audience. You may want to use the structure suggested in the Learning and Teaching Evolution document (break where possible, (on-site and/or online) teaching into 20-30 minutes sections) to build in ‘check in points’ for questions from the class or online participants.

If you intend to interjections in the flow of your session then you will need to set behaviours. It is important to set standards of behaviour within the online spaces. Playful activity in the chat or with the hands up tool may disrupt your face to face group. Set expected behaviours early and stick to them.

Hybridising an interactive session

Interaction can be tricky and can lead to both online and face to face experiences being diluted. Any group tasks or discussions are best kept within each mode of delivery (online or in class) and fed back to the others at the relevant time in the session. By this we mean online attendees work with online attendee and vice versa. With feedback from these discussions done in a managed way and in range of the camera field of vision and microphone. You will need to start considering your class room in terms of zones of where the microphone will hear the speaker and zones of where is in your chosen cameras field of vision.

Manage disruption between modes of delivery during breakout sessions. During the session you will need to ensure the normal sounds that come from use of your chosen software are reduced. As otherwise this will play through the loud speakers in the room (Advice on what this might mean is covered in the tips for each piece of software below).

For both Teams and Collaborate you will need to either use breakout rooms for discussions or mute the audio from the PC during breakout sessions. Equally you will want to mute your microphone in the teaching space during breakout sessions. This will stop disruptions to the online from the class and minimize the risk of lectern side conversations being broadcast.

During any breakout or group work you might also want to hide the software tool you are using to host as otherwise, the video and audio feeds will disrupt the face to face discussions. You will not be able to facilitate the online discussion in any form other than chat from the hybridised space unless you have an online facilitator.

Think before using a lot of video feeds or necessitating others to do so. “Just one hour of video conferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide… But leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%”. (Purdue University Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says: Simple tips to go green with your internet use during a pandemic.” ScienceDaily. 14 January 2021.)

Introducing the UWE teaching estate

In every teaching space you will find a PC with at least 1 webcam attached and at least 1 microphone attached. Most PCs in teaching rooms will be ‘All-in-One’ PCs. This means they contain the PC within the screen. They will also have a dual ‘pop up’ camera at the top that contains a camera. If the room has a visualizer this may also have a camera and a microphone attached. In lecture theatres the microphones are either stick microphones or mobile solutions. The same microphones are used for voice reinforcement as recording.  In smaller teaching rooms the microphone is mounted on the ceiling. Sometimes it is embedded and sometimes it dangles a little.

Camera in rooms

Annotated images of cameras in teaching rooms

  1. Lecture theatre camera in 2B25 Frenchay
  2. Small Classroom ceiling camera
  3. Pop-up camera on an All-in-One PC

Each camera will give a different angle. Every piece of software will allow you to switch between cameras. So, there may be times when the ceiling camera is appropriate and there may be times when a different or additional camera is needed. Become comfortable adapting camera feeds to match need of the session and swapping in sessions. Be mindful audio is much more important and much less adaptable to novel needs.

Microphones in rooms

Anotated Images of Stick Microphones

  1. Lecture Theatre Stick Microphone
  2. Lecture Theatre Mobile Solutions
  3. Smaller Classroom Ceiling Microphone

The most important step on whatever software you are using is to select the correct microphone. There are no standard naming conventions on microphones. You must choose the USB microphone, but not the ceiling mounted camera and not the visualiser one. This can only be determined by a process of elimination in the room itself.

There are some additional hardware concerns. In big lecture theatres remember to turn the relevant microphone on. If you can’t hear it through the speakers those at home will not be able to hear it either. The stick microphones (Image 4) can be pointed towards the audience to pick up questions with varying success. However, please check and follow the latest guidance before passing around the mobile pack (Image 5) as we need follow infection control procedures.

In small teaching spaces the sound will depend very much on the room shape and the activity within it. However, the further you travel from the microphone the more indistinguishable from background noise you will become.

There are some additional software variations to be mindful of. For example, Microsoft Teams has noise cancellation capability if you select it in Settings. Other software doesn’t yet e.g. Collaborate. Each piece of software will give a slightly different end product.

Software specific tips

  • For those using Panopto The audience watching at home will be 30(ish) seconds behind. If you have any engagement activities, e.g. Mentimeter, that you are planning to extend to those watching at home allow for extra time. Use of Panopto’s live stream ‘discussion’ feature will generate screen noise (pop ups). This is best avoided.
  • For those using MS Teams The ‘App’ version of Teams is not available in teaching rooms. You should plan and test for use with the browser version. MS Teams is software as a service (SaaS) so check your plan for the session on the system as close to the time as possible. Teams does more to process your audio than the other options. This is usually a good thing. However, in rooms with loud ambient noises such as extractor fans outside the window this can cause havoc for the end user. Amplifying bits you wouldn’t want amplifying when people aren’t talking.
  • For those using Blackboard Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate can have a lot of audio notifications on. Switch these noises off for your session. Blackboard Collaborate is software as a service (SaaS) so check your plan for the session on the system as close to the time as possible. If you need to use a document camera during your sessions FET have developed some specific guidance on document cameras and Blackboard Collaborate.

Managing the UWE teaching estate i.e. how to monitor the chat whilst teaching

You have 2 practicable options to monitor your online space whilst presenting from a lectern.

Option 1: Extend rather than duplicate your lectern PC. This is possible anywhere there is an ‘All-in-One’ (Image 3) PC in the teaching room. What does this mean? If you extend your desktop it means you operate with the lectern screen and the projection / big screen acting like a 2 screen set up. Each able to show different things. Coupled with ‘Presenter View’ in PowerPoint this can be quite powerful.

You can select to move between extending your desktop (operates like 2 screens) and duplicating your desktop (the same image in front and behind you) by pressing the Windows key with P. Please leave rooms as you found them. FET have developed this short resource about how to manage teaching using Collaborate on a the lectern screen whilst extending your desktop. The principles hold for any software you might be using.

Option 2: Bring an additional device specifically to monitor the online space. This frees you up from the lectern a little but remember the microphones in the teaching rooms have diminishing returns the further away from them you. Do not use a separate device plugged into the lectern to teach or broadcast from unless you really need specialist software. The lectern machine should be used where possible as it is plugged into the room camera and microphone system. Broadcasting from one whilst presenting from another will be a headache whilst presenting from the laptop only is liable to give poor audio to the online participants.

Getting additional kit

There are dedicated resources on each campus for additional kit. This additional kit is limited and only to be booked for specific reasons, not ‘just in case’. On each campus you will be able to borrow kit to use within your teaching. For 2021/22 there will be a specific limited selection of ‘Hybrid teaching care boxes’ on each campuses loan store.

The loans desk for Frenchay can be found at https://connect2.uwe.ac.uk/hasav/ and it is the Faculty’s intention to put the Glenside loan kit through this system for 2021/22. Currently the loan system is managed by the technical team and if you need additional web cams on Glenside you will need to contact Dave Watkins or Ian Parsons.