Do’s and don’ts in hybrid teaching
Although the hybrid model of education has been around for some 20 years, it only really took flight during the corona pandemic. While it is not always easy, being able to participate in education simultaneously on location and remotely has proven to be of great help. To help lecturers quickly transition from the conventional onsite model to the hybrid one, Ria Dolfing and Rouven Hagemeijer conducted a review study aimed at identifying both the benefits and drawbacks of the hybrid approach.
In this article they share some tips for implementing hybrid education and hybrid learning activities. You can read a more detailed elaboration in their report.
What are the biggest challenges?
The literature revealed several challenges regarding hybrid teaching & learning, these broadly amount to the following points:
- facilitating communication between the lecturer, onsite and online students;
- avoiding overload due to the use of multimedia, communication channels and other tools;
- motivating and engaging students in hybrid learning activities;
- creating equal learning opportunities that benefit both online and onsite students.
What are the do’s and don’ts?
To address these challenges, Dolfing and Hagemeijer describe the most important do’s and don’ts in designing and implementing hybrid teaching & learning models categorised according to three themes. Below you find a brief summary.
Communication & interaction
Ensure interaction among students, both onsite and online, and between the instructor and both student groups. This fosters a sense of belonging among the online students but also makes possible equitable learning opportunities for both groups of students.
- make use of the proper technologies for communication for additional (a)synchronous exchanges between the participants as well as the lecturer;
- provide clear instructions beforehand concerning the proper use of the technologies employed and the rules for participating in class discussions and activities;
- spend enough time on both groups;
- but pay extra attention to communication with the online students;
- have online and onsite students partner up for in-class activities.
Motivation & engagement
Integrate specific strategies that support the learning process and to keep online students motivated in a hybrid setting.
- use different means for communicating (media/channels) to keep students engaged;
- establish clear rules for participation and pay sufficient attention to the online group;
- use asynchronous means for participating;
- create opportunities for online students to participate in a flexible fashion.
Teaching support & professional development
Adequate support concerning the practical aspects of hybrid sessions ensures the continuity of the process by preventing communication breakdowns and it also avoids placing an excessive cognitive load on instructors and students.
- design learning activities specific for implementing in hybrid settings. As such, it requires adequate professional development in providing hybrid education;
- make all the necessary preparations beforehand, it might be prudent to also have a ‘plan B’;
- make sure instructors and students know how to properly use the technology/applications in question;
- have a teaching assistant present for taking care of the technological side of things and any troubleshooting;
- have students assume responsibility for managing part of the process;
- use dedicated equipment whenever possible.
Conclusion (and further reading)
This literature review shows that the success of hybrid education depends on creating the necessary conditions and making the right choices. Well prepared hybrid education has many advantages, but it is not a panacea when it comes to meeting the challenges of today's educational landscape.
Raes, A., Detienne, L., Windey, I., Depaepe, F. (2020) ‘A systematic literature review on synchronous hybrid learning: gaps identified’, Learning Environments Research, 23(3), 269-290;
Rogers, P., Graham, C., Rasmussen, R., Campbell, J. & Ure, D. (2003) ‘Case 2: blending face-to-face and distance learners in a synchronous class: instructor and learner experiences’, Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 4(3), 245-251;