The recent COVID-19 pandemic caused many educational institutions to adopt hybrid approaches to classroom instruction. These approaches, initially introduced to maintain student progress, offer synchronous learning to students in different settings and different time zones. They provide students with greater flexibility in terms of when and where they complete their mandated activities, giving them more choices around jobs, families, and other commitments. Given the popularity of hybrid learning, It is crucial for academics to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to deliver it effectively.
As a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions are increasingly adopting hybrid approaches to classroom instruction. By combining in-person and online learning, hybrid programs aim to minimise disruptions to student progress. As part of a hybrid learning environment, students have the option of attending classes either on campus, online in the same time zone, or online in a different time zone. This method can be used in conjunction with traditional classroom instruction to provide a course to students in different time zones at the same time. Therefore, it is crucial to acquire knowledge of and skill with appropriate tools for reaching and engaging both online and on-campus students, as well as asynchronous students who are catching up with the session later.
Not surprisingly, hybrid learning has grown so ubiquitous that it is akin to learning today. Its unrivalled ease of use offers a unique set of advantages. While there are still some mandatory in-person meetings and other commitments associated with learning and education, students have more flexibility in terms of when and where they complete their assignments, thus offering a tremendous amount of flexibility around jobs, families, and other commitments.
GUIDELINES FOR RUNNING A HYBRID CLASS
First and foremost, as opposed to purely online or face-to-face classes, this mode of learning requires the learning facilitator to continually address all the participants—face-to-face, online, and asynchronous students simultaneously. Therefore, it necessitates creating a hybrid module in Moodle, designing hybrid activities, and using collaborative interactive tools for submissions and feedback. The following can be used as a guideline for conducting a hybrid class:
Start the class by greeting all three cohorts of students (face-to-face, online, and asynchronous). Engage the students from the outset by asking them to reply to questions using the chat box and/or emojis. It is imperative to provide clear guidelines at the outset to ensure smooth lecture delivery. Questions from face-to-face students should be asked using a microphone (for example, a throwable mic) so all the participants, including online and asynchronous participants, can hear the information being shared. Questions from the online world should be preceded by a digital hand raise or posed in the chat box. It is imperative to keep the online audience engaged by asking questions frequently and not expecting an immediate response. Allow the students 10-20 seconds to understand, analyse, and respond to questions, either orally or through a chat box. Facial expressions and body language will help the learning facilitator gauge the learning experience of the face-to-face student cohort. Further, to ensure that the online students are also enjoying the same level of learning, the learning facilitator should keep asking both open-ended and closed-ended questions, requiring students to respond, as well as sharing the feedback.
It is strongly recommended to include three or four learning activities to engage and enhance the learning experience of the three targeted audiences. The learning facilitator, while mentioning the details of activities in the PowerPoint presentation, should create a link to each activity in Moodle, allowing online and face-to-face students to both share and participate through the link provided. For group activities, the learning facilitator can create breakout rooms for the online participants and post links to activities in the chat box. Since the traditional format of class activities, for instance, word doc or pdf, is not suitable for this mode of learning, it is imperative to use more interactive tools such as Padlet for building class activities. On completion of an activity, students should share their results in Moodle. The lecturer then shares, discusses, and provides feedback on the activity, and any questions from face-to-face or online classes are addressed accordingly. The following hybrid activity exemplar can be used to build in-class activities in Moodle.
Activity: Students are required to read an article on the auditor's independence (Activity 3.1), think critically about the questions posted in Moodle, and write their response in the Padlet provided on ‘the threats to the auditor's independence’ mentioned in the article.
Face-to-face students: Read the article individually and add responses in the Padlet provided.
Online students: Read the article, think about the questions, and post answers in the Padlet.
Asynchronous students: If you are catching up with the lesson, pause the recording. Go to activity 3.1 in Moodle, where a detailed explanation of the activity is provided. Post your answers in the Padlet.
Learning facilitator: The lecturer will explain the activity to students and give them a time frame (10-15 minutes) to work on it. When the activity has ended, give feedback on the responses posted on Padlet and answer any questions from face-to-face and online students.
Although there are many collaborative online learning tools available, when it comes to designing interactive activities for students, Padlet clearly offers tremendous benefits as it allows students to complete their tasks and documents at their own pace while still keeping track of any changes or contributions made by other class members. More importantly, Padlet can be built into the Moodle pages, and QR codes can be scanned and shared on the chat box or in the PowerPoint to allow students to access the activity immediately. The tool offers uploading of Excel, PDF, Word, documents, images, and videos and allows the facilitator to identify who wrote a response and what the response was. To highlight the usefulness of this tool, three main uses in hybrid learning mode are detailed below:
First, it is a great alternative backchannel option to the online discussion platforms of Canvas and Moodle. When students are given access to the Q&A, they remain anonymous. The learning facilitator can either publish a written response or a video or audio recording in response to the student's inquiry. Padlet's ability to display numerous submissions at once on a wall makes it easy for students to scan the wall for answers to previously posted questions.
Second, it offers a convenient way to distribute media and other content, such as films, photos, documents, and even audio. Additionally, Padlet wall can also be used by students to share relevant resources with their classmates.
Finally, Padlet is compatible with Zoom's breakout rooms, enabling the instructor to delegate tasks to small groups and have them share their ideas in Padlet. Alternately, it can be used as a brainstorming and brainwriting tool to solve problem-based case studies.
Assigning tasks to asynchronous students
To ensure the same level of learning experience, the learning facilitator must require asynchronous students to listen to the recording and then respond to the questions based on the discussion in recordings to enable them to move to the next module.
Hybrid education is sparking a transformation in the way we teach and learn. There is a transition from top-down lecturing with disengaged, passive students to a more collaborative, interactive approach in which the learning facilitator and students co-create the learning process. Not surprisingly, an ever-increasing number of students who cannot engage in traditional classroom settings due to their inability to find a particular class at their preferred university or because they reside in remote areas or work full-time and can only study at or after work can benefit extensively from this mode of learning.
To compensate for both online and asynchronous students' lack of physical presence, the learning facilitator should be open, concerned, and flexible and must foster a welcoming environment where all students feel comfortable contributing. Most importantly, students must be informed of their instructor's availability. Failure to do so risks alienating students from both each other and the instructor, creating a very poor learning environment. The hybrid classroom needs new teaching strategies and instructional techniques. Replicating the on-campus classroom in the online paradigm is a recipe for disaster. Collaborative tools are necessary, and Padlet partners beautifully with this style of learning.
Editor (2021). What is hybrid teaching? | The University of Edinburgh. (September 3).
Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/learning-technology/more/teaching-continuity/teaching-continuity-overview
Admin (2022). 22 Amazing Benefits of Hybrid Learning in the Digital Age. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://nogre.com/12-amazing-benefits-of-hybrid-learning.
Admin (2022). Online Tools for Teaching & Learning. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from https://blogs.umass.edu/onlinetools/community-centered-tools/padlet-review.
Nadeem Tahir is an Assistant Professor in Accounting at UBSS. He has degrees in Medicine, Accounting (ANU), and Business Administration, and is currently pursuing a PhD at UTS, researching corporate tax avoidance. Nadeem is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA Australia). He was formally, a Deputy Commissioner in the Taxation Department and a Senior Taxation Accountant. Nadeem has been teaching accounting to undergraduate and postgraduate students in a variety of public and private universities since 2015 and has earned numerous accolades for outstanding student feedback.