Ten useful tips for teaching a hybrid course for the first time
Laura Patricia Zepeda Orantes shares recommendations for delivering hybrid courses, especially for teachers who are new to this way of working
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Hybrid learning, which combines face-to-face teaching with technology inside and outside the classroom, requires adapting to a new format that reduces the professor’s protagonism and increases the student’s responsibility for their own learning. This can represent a new experience and therefore throw up new challenges, both for students, who are themselves adapting to it, and for faculty, whose objective is to help students thrive in uncertain times.
If you, like many professors, are about to start your first hybrid teaching experience, here are 10 essential recommendations to keep in mind:
1. Track group performance outside the classroom
Take advantage of technological tools to do this. For example, analytics within your learning management system can be used to identify learners who have not consistently logged on to the platform and to help reinforce with them the importance of the material provided online. You can also review the results of online activities to identify topics that require reinforcement. Some platforms include tracking of the number of times a resource has been retrieved, and analysis of this information will allow you to identify those that are not being used or identify possible improvements to the resource.
2. Review and adapt
Adapt your teaching practice to the specific needs of learners based on immediate results.
3. Show confidence in the modality in front of learners
The first time you teach a hybrid course, there may be nervousness and concerns that lead you to want to warn the group that it’s your first time with this type of course or that: “It’s new to me, too.” Beware of this. The confidence you demonstrate to the group will be essential to their accepting the hybrid experience and adapting more easily to it. Instead, you should convey to the learners that hybrid formats have been successfully implemented and that they will now be able to join in this exciting approach to learning.
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4. Be prepared for learners’ reactions
Learners are likely to express some less-than-positive comments about hybrid, usually because they perceive it to involve more work and responsibility for them. This is perfectly natural, so do not be taken aback when it happens. In the hybrid learning model, we are transferring much of the work to the learners, who must now develop and strengthen their self-management skills. To counteract this perception, highlight the advantages and possibilities that a course under this modality represents for them.
5. Promote the learner’s prior preparation
To make the most of face-to-face time for valuable activities, you must reinforce the importance of students consulting the study materials before the session. Carry out this reinforcement in each session, or at least until you feel that the group has adapted to the dynamics of the course and is sufficiently prepared for the face-to-face sessions.
6. Beware the butterfly effect
It’s normal that, during and after our interactions with the group, we will identify the need to modify elements of our initial planning. Extending deadlines, rearranging topics, changing their duration and more might all be required. In a fully face-to-face environment, it might be sufficient to communicate these changes to students during a class session; however, when teaching in a hybrid model, it’s important to consider the impact that each change will have on what’s on your technological platform (virtual environment).
7. Feedback, feedback, feedback
Learners need to know how they are performing and what is expected of them – and this should be delivered not only in face-to-face sessions but also in the asynchronous environment.
8. Open your communication channels
In a hybrid course, learners often have high expectations about the attention they will receive outside class hours. It is advisable to establish communication channels for this purpose − technological support for asynchronous interaction is essential at this point.
9. Ask questions of your students
Be open to feedback from the group about what you could improve in your class. Establish a strategy for receiving their feedback.
10. Keep a record of lessons learned
Don’t wait until the end to document these. A very concrete recommendation I would give is that from the beginning of the course you should create a document to note all the ideas, areas of improvement or issues that have arisen to further improve your teaching practice in hybrid courses.
Some of these same recommendations may well be useful in other course formats, and you probably already apply them in your face-to-face practice; however, the hybrid modality forces us to be much more aware of these aspects to ensure the success of a course.
Laura Patricia Zepeda Orantes is leader of pedagogical models innovation at Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Author and education expert Michael B. Horn shares some tips on the hybrid model for those teachers facing a mixture of remote and on-site education: https://tec.mx/en/news/national/education/expert-advice-networking-hybrid-mode
Roberto Rosler says the transition from a traditional classroom to a hybrid one is like moving house – it’s vital to know what things to throw out, to keep or to renew: https://tec.mx/en/news/national/education/do-you-teach-think-about-when-moving-hybrid-classroom