With the shift from remote to hybrid learning occurring in select areas around the world, we mustn’t forget about the students that we don’t see. One of the issues in hybrid learning is the ability of online students to actively participate with the students who are in-person. This may be uncomfortable for us as educators, because this tech-filled world isn’t one that we grew up in. Many of our students may feel the opposite, as they are growing up in an age of connection where being a social media influencer is actually a thing. Back when we were their age, social media wasn’t even (or was barely even) a thing.
Here are a few points of consideration as you begin to move into a hybrid teaching environment:
1. Can you hear me?
One thing we can do to increase inclusion, is to make sure everyone can hear one another. On a video call, everyone on the call can hear one another. To replicate this we should make sure that the in-person students can hear the online ones, and vice versa. Using microphones helps with this aspect. Using speakers in the classroom also allows the in-person students to hear the ones who are online.
2. Use captions
Most video conferencing programs (Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) have a caption option now. Turning this on enables students to see what is being said, even if they can’t hear it. One benefit for the speaker is that it allows them to see what they say. When I first started enabling closed captioning in my classes, I noticed right away that there were a handful of words that I was not enunciating correctly. Seeing the text of what I was saying helped me to become more clear in my speech.
3. Group students
With the physical distancing parameters set up in our current environments, the typical way in which we used to assign group work simply can’t exist. Regardless of how students are grouped, there will be distance between them. This new way of teaching does however create a powerful opportunity for students to collaborate. No matter which version of the 21st Century Learning Skills you subscribe to, every model has “collaboration” as one of the key points. When grouping students, instead of having an online vs. offline setting, why not combine online students with in-person ones. Think about it. When we’re working collaboratively in online spaces, all of us are in different settings, yet we’re still able to contribute to group work and projects. Let’s work on giving that same opportunity to our students. We’re approaching an era where this new version of remote work is becoming a mainstay option in several big companies. Why not use the current environment to help prepare our students for this new world of work in an experiential way?