If you will be teaching a course with a mix of in-person and online students, there are some initial considerations to think about before planning the best experience for your students.
Many of your decisions regarding designing and delivering a hybrid course will be impacted by the scope of your hybrid offering. For example, are you offering a live stream for a single student who is unable to attend in-person, or do you want to create a more fluid, HyFlex environment where students can all choose to attend in-person or online? You need to provide more structure if a large portion of your students will be participating remotely, whereas you can provide more individualized attention if it is only one or two students online.
Converting an existing course to a hybrid in-person and online format will require planning time on your part to rethink your course and class session goals, the flow of communication and managing your students, assessments and how you will conduct the class. Do you have enough time before the class starts to devote to this planning? If not, are there ways you can make smaller changes to the structure, course policies, and learning goals to simplify the course to make it easier to manage in this format?
Teaching any course with online students will require more time and coordination to cover the same material as a course with only in-person students. Examine the overall and specific learning goals of your course and class sessions. Are there ways you can pare down these goals and focus on more essential material to avoid moving too fast or overburdening the online students taking the course?
What size will the class be? Is it a larger course with many students or a small, seminar style class? Do you know if the online students will all be able to participate synchronously with the in-person class in live class sessions? How many might not be able to participate in live sessions? Are there any accommodations that must be made for students with disabilities?
These questions will impact many aspects of planning your course. For example, if you have no idea if all of the students are available for live class meetings, you will need to plan for online, asynchronous activities to encourage communication and group cohesion among all of the online and in-person students. For a larger class, you may need to plan for assistance from a TA or a class volunteer to help manage the online sessions.
Even with the best course design, a situation where some students are taking the course online and some in person will result in two different communities and experiences. Your goal is to ensure that the course learning objectives are met by all students and how this can be accomplished in different ways. Online students are also more likely to feel isolated, so you should pay careful attention to fostering a sense of community and belonging for them.
While planning your course, ask yourself which of your course goals will require special attention to translate the experience into something suitable for the online students. Will students be disadvantaged in group work, building community or access to campus resources? How can you make the work equitable for both online and in-person students with the circumstances faced by the online students?
If you will be running live, in-person sessions with discussions and activities, how can you set up and manage activities to encourage participation from the remote online students? If you have some remote students that cannot participate in the live sessions, will you be able to offer alternatives or should you shift the entire class to more online, asynchronous activities to maintain a more equitable experience?
Due to individual student living circumstances, remote students may not be able to show their camera during live sessions or might be limited on commenting because of the class subject matter. How can you ensure that these students don’t feel singled out or excluded from the class activities?
You might have a teaching assistant for your course. Assisting with a face-to-face class can be a time consuming and hectic experience. A mixed-mode course will require additional time and commitment. Your teaching assistant is limited by the Graduate School on the number of hours they can work to ensure they have time for their own course load. Look for ways to minimize time commitments by your teaching assistants and communicate regularly.
Check the Division of IT Classrooms page to find out more about the technology that will be available in your classroom. Many classrooms at NIU are now outfitted with a camera and microphone to support live streaming, but they may not all have additional technology, like a document camera, or the specific type of camera you are expecting.
Will online students need to connect live to the sessions or is only a recording needed? If the former, what types of activities or interactions will remote students be engaging in, and what tools, equipment or set-up will your room need to accommodate that? What technology will be needed to help your class run smoothly? If possible, have a practice session in the room you will be using, if possible, to become familiar with the technology setup and ensure that your class sessions will run smoothly.
Flexible Teaching guides were developed by Duke Learning Innovation and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
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