A hybrid beast?
As the fanciful dragon image indicates, the word “hybrid” has the feeling of a strange and wild creature – and for some, multi-mode or hybrid delivery across on-campus and off-campus cohorts will indeed seem like a strange and unfamiliar beast.
However, taming the dragon can introduce many of us to worlds and methods we had not thought of before in our higher education teaching approaches. In this Coffee Course we hope that the dragon can lead us to imaginative, creative ways to ensure we include all students in a stimulating “community of inquiry.” This is what this three day Coffee Course hopes to explore!
A little about naming the dragon
As you may have noticed, we have used a number of different terms to describe the new approaches of learning and teaching being tried during a pandemic situation, when not all students can be on campus.
Prior to the contingencies that had to be put in place hastily due to COVID19, there have been many years of university teaching and learning taking advantage of the internet and online technology, with terms such as “hybrid learning,” “flexible learning” and “blended learning” indicating an approach that was neither fully on-campus, nor fully online. With the onset of the pandemic, the word “hybrid” seems to be very common in discussions on how best to ensure students can continue their higher education safely. It is often used interchangeably with “flexible” and “blended” but there are schools of thought that like to delineate very clearly between these different approaches. More recently, “multi-mode” and “dual-delivery” have emerged as terms to describe the contingency measures universities are taking.
There is much discussion and different understandings within the higher education sector about what these different terms mean, and we are not going to delve into the different interpretations in depth here. Hybrid and blended forms of learning incorporate a range of mixes of on-line and face-to-face class activities. In some hybrid models, off-campus students are asked to attend face to face lectures remotely, in real time, from their home computers. Other hybrid approaches are more flexible, offering numerous forms and pathways through which students can learn.
“Flexible” may be a key word here to distinguish learning programs that mandate real-time attendance at classes (whether online or on-campus), and those which allow students to choose how they learn. This notion of flexibility is sometimes combined with the word “hybrid” to create the word “hyflex” to indicate it is a hybrid model of on-campus and online learning, with flexibility as to how students learn. ANU is tending to use the term “multi-mode” as a generic term to describe our current approach.
Here are two resources which come from these two broad approaches and both of them have some very useful tips and strategies:
An Introduction to Hybrid Teaching (College, of DuPage, Creative Commons license)
COVID19 Planning for Fall 2020: A closer look at hybrid-flexible course design (PhilonEdTech Blog)
Having done some of the above reading, which approach do you feel would work for your course/s and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Challenges and opportunities
Challenges and opportunities arise in this environment for both students and teaching staff. We can use technology to make sure off-campus students can join in online, but there are risks that groups of students may feel left out or forgotten. We are going to explore the student response in tomorrow’s post.
One of the major challenges is attempting to teach the off-campus and face-to-face student groups concurrently. Particularly if off-campus students are made to attend on-campus lectures online in real time, this could be stressful for both students and teachers unless the teacher has considerable support, experience and skills to manage the technology and the two different groups of learners. On the other hand, with good support and practice, it is possible for such an approach to be very rewarding.
How can we maximise positive learning experiences for all students within these new constraints and a divided cohort of students? Share your ideas in a comments post, as well as what you see as the challenges and opportunities, then read on tomorrow to check out what the research says!
More References and Resources
For a range of practical and theoretical resources on multimode and hybrid teaching approaches, go to ANU’s Teaching Remotely site in WATTLE (sorry only accessible to ANU staff) and scroll down to the Section named Multimode (Hybrid) Delivery