If you’re being asked to teach a hybrid, or “HyFlex” class, where some students are in person, and some are online and are worried about managing both environments, here are some tips for creating the best experience possible for your students:
Tip #1: Don’t Do It!
Engaging students is hard enough in-person. Engaging them online is more challenging. Now imagine trying to do both…simultaneously.
In some cases, hybrid classes are our administrations falling into the same trap as our entrepreneurs:
Afraid of losing customers, they’re trying to be everything to everyone. As a result, they’ll create a product no one wants.
To be clear, “HyFlex” classes have their place. Namely large, lecture-based classes with limited interaction.
If you’re teaching entrepreneurship however, your students will be best served by moving your classes online now. Remember that in-person classes, with everyone in masks and six feet apart, aren’t going to be the normal classes we remember:
So if you want to engage your students, online is the way to go. Plus, once you commit to going online, you can invest in creating a great class there.
Just like we teach our students…
We need to solve one problem well, not multiple problems poorly. Of course, you may not be entirely in control of the decision to go online.
If that’s true for you…
Tip #2: Teach Online to In-Person Students
If your hands are tied and you need to teach a hybrid class, knowing that:
- You can’t engage students simultaneously on Zoom and in-person
- In-person students will be socially distant from one another
All of your students will be better served if they are online, even when they’re “in-person.”
When your in-person students bring their laptops to class and everyone is on your video conference call (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) you can:
- Do virtual Post-It note exercises with all students simultaneously
- Host class-wide discussions including everyone
- Have small group breakouts
- Ensure equitable access for all students
Having all of your students in one place, even if that place is online, will make the experience more manageable for you, and more engaging for your students.
Tip #3: Answer These Tech Questions
When setting up your hybrid classroom, there are a couple of questions you’ll need to answer (possibly with the help of your IT team):
- How will in-person students be able to speak, and ask questions, so that your online students can hear them? You’ll need microphone(s) in your classroom to pick up the audio from your in-person students so your online students can hear.
- How will online students be able to speak and ask questions without hearing feedback? You’ll need speakers in your classroom so your in-person students can listen to what the online students are saying. Unfortunately, the microphones required for question #1 above will often pick up the audio from those speakers, creating an annoying feedback loop where online students hear themselves talk with a slight delay (which will virtually guarantee they don’t participate in discussions).
- How will online students be able to see who is speaking in the classroom? You’ll need at least two cameras in your classroom: 1) one facing towards the front of the room so online students can see when you’re speaking and 2) one facing towards your in-person students so the online students can see when an in-person student is talking. You’ll also want a way for the video conference software to automatically switch between those two cameras based on who is speaking.
- How will in-person students present their work (e.g., pitches, presentations, etc.) so online students can see them? In-person students will need to simultaneously project their slides so that other in-person students can see them, while also screen sharing them so online students can see them.
- How will online students present their work so that in-person students can see them? You’ll need to project your video conferencing software within your classroom so the in-person students can view presentations from online students.
The easiest way to solve all of the issues above is actually to follow Tip #2: Teach Online to In-Person Students. When all of your in-person students bring their laptops and headphones to class and log in to your virtual meeting – as long as they unmute their microphones whenever they want to speak – all of a sudden:
- Online students can see and hear in-person students, and vice versa
- You can have class-wide discussions without headaches
- Anyone can easily present their camera, screen and/or slides
This solution, of course…
Begs the Question
If you’re just going to have in-person students attend online, what’s the point in having in-person classes at all?
To which we say…exactly.
Not only are hybrid classes infeasible from an engagement perspective, but they’re also a technical nightmare (see Tip #1: Don’t Do It, and avoid the headaches of hybrid classes from the beginning).
Tip #4: Use Online-Ready Exercises
If you’re following along, you know the most effective way to run hybrid classes will be online. With that in mind, the next step is to find online resources to use for your class.
Whether you use an online-ready curriculum like the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), or you assemble your own online activities, now is the time to start prepping your online class for Fall.
Note: ExEC’s Canvas, D2L, Blackboard, and Moodle templates can get your class set up in less than 5 minutes.
Our Students Deserve Better.
Our students weren’t disappointed with “online classes” last spring. They were disappointed by the way we delivered our online classes.
We didn’t have a chance to prep in Spring, but we should have no excuses for Fall.
Hybrid, or HyFlex classes, are just online classes with another name. If you invest in prepping your class to go online now, you can deliver the experience your students deserve.
Stay safe, and let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you prep for Fall!