Since the spring of 2020, when the whole world learned how to use Zoom, students have become accustomed to having options for how they will participate in a class. Sometimes they are eager to come to a classroom on campus. At other times they want real-time engagement but prefer to connect from wherever they are that day. 

Instructors find themselves facing a new challenge: with some students in the physical classroom, and other students online, how does the instructor support in-person and remote students equally? The following strategies can help.

In a dual delivery / hybrid flexible class

Dual delivery (sometimes called hybrid flex or HyFlex) is a modality for synchronous classes where some students are in the classroom with the instructor, and some are “zooming in” by video conference.

In this modality, successfully supporting both in-person and remote students depends on these factors:

  • The classroom must have access to appropriate technology for dual delivery. Setting up wide-angle cameras and touch screens (such as DTEN) helps to keep both in-person and online students engaged in the meeting and ensures that they can all see and hear the lesson clearly.
  • If the classroom isn’t equipped with the latest technology, and the in-class participants cannot see or hear their online classmates clearly, the instructor must remember to divide their attention equally between participant modalities. Repeating the questions of online students, or reading chat comments aloud, are important actions to keep everyone part of the conversation.

In a hybrid class

In a hybrid class, a blend of in-person and online learning, all students are expected to engage in the same real-time meeting, but the rest of the week is asynchronous as the students work on their own to submit their assignments online. The real-time meeting of a hybrid class can be remote (e.g., in Zoom) or on campus, but not both modalities at the same time as in dual delivery.

In the hybrid modality, students need in-person support from their instructor during the real-time class and asynchronous support between class meetings. Here are some success strategies for hybrid classes:

  • Build a robust online environment so that the in-class meeting can be about discussion and discovery, not content delivery. In the most engaging hybrid classes, the instructor does not spend much time lecturing. Rather, the students connect with each other to apply what they’ve learned with in-class activities that deepen their understanding of that week’s material.
  • Expect that some students will not participate in the in-person class meetings, knowing that they can access their assignments online. An equitable approach to hybrid teaching encourages attendance but does not penalize students for non-attendance at real-time meetings.

In a multi-section class with choices of modality

For courses with multiple section offerings, an instructor might be teaching the same material in more than one modality. For example, one section might be face-to-face on campus in a classroom, while another section is online and asynchronous.

In this situation, how does an instructor support their online students as much as they are supporting the students they see every week? Here are some strategies:

  • Record video lectures and use them in both modalities. Instructors are accustomed to thinking of video lectures as tools for online classes, but videos are equally effective in face-to-face classes. Publishing a video lecture ahead of the in-class meeting frees up valuable class time for peer-to-peer discussions and other more engaging learning activities.
  • Ensure that learning materials from the in-person class, like worksheets and practice tests, are also made available in the online class. Online students who choose to engage with these materials will benefit from them, even when working through the activities on their own.

Whether they are participating in person or online, students want to feel supported by their instructors and connected to their classmates. Considering how the modality impacts the student experience when designing learning activities is a critical component of successful teaching in these hybrid times.