April 30, 2020

Experimenting with Hybrid Teaching in a Dedicated Room – Preliminary Conclusions of a Project From LaSalle College Financed as Part of the Digital Action Plan

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

In the fall of 2019, 3 teachers from LaSalle College experimented with hybrid teaching in a new classroom set up for that purpose.The college drew preliminary conclusions from the experiment. I will present to you some of the key elements of those conclusions.

A project financed as part of the Digital Action Plan

In October 2019, Profweb introduced you to the setting up of a classroom for hybrid courses at LaSalle College. That project was financed as part of the Digital Action Plan for Education and Higher Education.

The room is designed for teaching hybrid courses, which the students may choose to attend in person or remotely. The room is equipped with a wide-angle camera and a system of microphones on the ceiling. A wireless lavalier microphone is available for the teacher. The remote students attend the class on the Adobe Connect web conferencing platform.

LaSalle College’s hybrid classroom.

Preliminary conclusions

At the end of the first semester, with 3 teachers having used the classroom, LaSalle College was able to draw preliminary conclusions from the experiment.

The 3 teachers had already taught remotely and in class, but had never taught hybrid courses. Not all classes of the course were offered in the hybrid format: each teacher chose the classes which the students could attend remotely if they wanted to. Additionally, the first classes all took place in class exclusively, since the room was not ready at the beginning of the semester because of some delays in obtaining the funding. What did the teachers think of their experience?

The 3 teachers enjoyed the flexibility that hybrid teaching offers their students. They liked teaching in the hybrid classroom. All 3 said that they would like to give more hybrid courses. Positive!

The 3 teachers changed their teaching approach for the hybrid classroom. They judge that teaching hybrid courses require more planning than traditional courses. They note that hybrid teaching also requires more attention during the class, to listen to the needs of the remote students as well as those in the classroom.

The 3 teachers experienced technical difficulties during the semester. For example:

  • They noted that the video did not allow the remote students to read what their teachers were writing on the board properly. The College’s rep supposes that it is a compression issue with the videos (which affects the image’s resolution), which they will try to address.
  • Some teachers have pointed out problems with the sound (too quiet or cuts). They seem linked with the fact that the teachers did not use the lavalier microphone, possibly because of a compatibility issue between the lavalier microphone available to them and the version of the video conference platform installed on their computer. Those problems could easily be fixed.

And the students?

Given the limited number of students participating and the absence of formal control groups, it has been impossible for LaSalle College to check if hybrid teaching had had a quantifiable impact on the success of the students.

Nevertheless, the results of a satisfaction survey given to the students are quite positive:

  • 61% of the students liked their experience with hybrid courses, while 23% did not like it.
  • More than 53% of the students would choose more hybrid courses if they had the chance.

The students that participated remotely generally seemed more satisfied than students who prefered to be in class.

Why the remote students are more satisfied than those in class

Given the technical difficulties linked with the audio and video for the broadcasting of the course, one of the teachers explained that she adapted by giving her courses sitting in front of her screen, as she would do for a remote learning course. This allowed the remote students to have access to quality audio and video from the comfort of their homes. On the other hand, the students in class then had access to a ‘diminished’ version of the course that they would have received otherwise (‘static’ teacher making less visual contact with them and being, without a doubt, less spontaneous in their interactions with them).

We then understand why the survey indicates that the students that attended the course remotely are more satisfied than those who did not. It is very likely that once the technical difficulties are addressed, the teachers will be able to use the room to its full potential and offer hybrid courses in a quasi-natural manner, which will increase the satisfaction of the students in class.

Have you tried hybrid teaching? With what material? Share your experience with us in the Comments section.

About the author

Catherine Rhéaume

Catherine Rhéaume is an editor and writer for Eductive (previously Profweb) since 2013. She also teaches physics at Cégep Limoilou. Her work for Eductive fosters her interest for technopedagogy and encourages her to try innovative teaching practices.

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