What is Hybrid Teaching?

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In this post, Assistant Principal for Digital Education Siân Bayne  introduces our pedagogic thinking around hybrid teaching and offers some resources from a global perspective.  

Hybrid teaching refers to courses and programmes that can be taken by online and on-campus students working together as a single cohort. In this sense it’s very different from remote or online teaching, which doesn’t assume any need for students to come to campus. And it’s also different from ‘blended’ teaching or ‘flipped’ classrooms, which start from the position that all students are on campus, but wraps various online activities around that. 

The driving ethos for hybrid teaching – and why it’s particularly important for us now – is that it offers us a way to make our teaching as flexible and accessible to students as possible during this crisis, while at the same time bringing on-campus and off-campus students together as a single cohort with a sense of shared community. This is going to be vital next academic yearas we support students not only to learn during a time of great uncertainty, but also to build a sense of belonging with the university, and comradeship with each other 

The challenges of hybrid course design mostly cluster around the need for accessibility by three different groups of students, while giving a meaningful and rich experience to each: 

  1. On-campus students, co-present in time and space 
  1. Online students in the same time zone 
  1. Online students in different time zones 

During next academic year, we will likely see students shifting between these categories. For example international students may start semester studying online if they are subject to travel restrictions, but come to Edinburgh as these ease; if there are further outbreaks, local lockdowns may mean students will need to be able to access their programmes entirely online even if they are on-campus; and if students or someone in their household becomes ill, the same will apply.  

In our university we have a lot of great on-campus teaching and a lot of excellent online teaching too: hybrid teaching is relatively new for us as part of our response to COVID-19 but we do have a strong body of institutional knowledge and support to draw on. It’s also worth knowing that hybrid teaching isn’t only a crisis response – we have strong and established example of it in the Design and Digital Media MSc in ECA and it has also long been in the plan for postgraduate teaching in the Edinburgh Futures Institute, with a lot of creative thinking about it having taken place among the EFI Fellows and Education team. Some of this is reflected in the hybrid prototypes paper which makes a start in thinking about how hybrid approaches can be mapped onto some of the teaching methods used across the university. 

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that while hybrid models are quite new to UK higher education, elsewhere they have a longer history, though sometimes under a different name: co-modal teaching, multi-access learning, synchromodal teaching, remote live participation, parallel teaching and blended synchronous learning for exampleThough this work wasn’t done as a response to crisis, it did generally aim to achieve something similar: high quality teaching, flexibility, inclusivity and community building across a distributed cohort. For example, the Australian government funded a project to understand how technology could help unite remote and face-to-face students in the same live classes resulting in a useful handbook for educatorsUniversité Laval developed some good thinking around ‘co-modal’ teaching which is well described and Columbia University has developed some very helpful guidance around hybrid methods.  

Resources

 

  

 Photo Credit: Original Upsplash, Remix by Joe Arton

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