Hybrid Pioneers (HPI) is an initiative developed at Moray House School of Education and Sport and the Centre of Open Learning, University of Edinburgh. It was formed during the Covid-19 pandemic to explore the possibilities of hybrid learning and teaching, and involves an action group of teachers, researchers, and technologists, working with approximately 800 students across 10 programmes. A key aim of the initiative is to reconceptualise hybrid learning and teaching, to develop a shared understanding of emergent theories, practices, pedagogies, and lived realities of dynamic hybrid learning spaces in the context of higher education.

The first year of the initiative involved a series of research exercises taking place with staff and students across the different programmes. The action group then built on their experiences and the emergent findings from the research to compile a series of propositions around hybrid space and pedagogy. These propositions therefore draw on some of the early themes coming out of our data gathering activity, and act as a compilation of some of the most powerful ideas to have emerged from our work-in-progress.

We wrote these propositions as a group of teachers and researchers working in the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh. The ideas presented here were informed by our own experiences and interests. We fully expect that students, teachers and colleagues in other disciplinary, sectoral, and global contexts will have alternative thoughts and stories around hybrid learning and we will look forward to reading and learning from them. Furthermore, this is not an exhaustive list of all the different propositions that emerged through our conversations, but is rather a collection of the what we felt were the strongest statements that considered hybrid learning from a range of perspectives.

The propositions are guided by our own positions and understandings of hybridity. For example, we believe that if part of the University of Edinburgh’s work, and that of other universities, involves preparing graduates for an evolving workplace, hybrid learning and teaching contributes towards this mission. Furthermore, we argue that the design of hybrid spaces and pedagogies must be empathetic to the climate crisis and the profound ecological challenges of our times; digital learning environments are not net zero. Our approach views hybridity as involving the design of inclusive learning spaces, and ongoing reflexivity and criticality on the part of university educators. However, we should avoid seeing hybrid learning as a panacea to challenges of accessibility. Questions of accessibility manifest differently within digital learning environments – they do not disappear.

We recognise that there are many different, varied and perhaps contested understandings of hybridity; it is the purpose of the hybrid propositions to surface these different views, thoughts and ideas and promote a dialogue about the future of hybrid learning and teaching in higher education.

 

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