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This real-life story is the translation of a text first published in Eductive’s French edition.

In fall 2021, I tried dual-mode teaching. I am sharing my strategies with you so that they may help you if you also give it a try!

Dual-mode teaching at my college

LaSalle College has converted a couple of classrooms for dual-mode teaching, the Flex rooms. Those rooms allow in-person and remote students to attend the same class, at the same time.

Des étudiants dans une classe Flex. Le mur du côté de la salle est ornée d’une murale colorée où on lit « Flex ». Un grand écran fixé au mur permet de voir des personnes qui participent à distance. Dans la classe, plusieurs étudiantes ont la main levée. La plupart des élèves présents ont un ordinateur portable.

Vue d’une classe Flex du Collège LaSalle. Source

Editor’s note

In 2019, Eductive (Profweb) published an article relating the first efforts of LaSalle College to adapt classrooms to teach in-person and remote students simultaneously. However, in those rooms, the class dynamic was affected by the fact that remote students could not see the students in the classroom, and vice versa.

In the summer of 2021, LaSalle College equipped 10 classrooms (pilot project) with new technological equipment for a more effective and natural dual-mode teaching: microphones, cameras, screens to allow the teacher and all the students to interact with one another. After successful trials during the summer, 9 additional classrooms were converted in the fall of 2021.

Promotional video from LaSalle College presenting the Flex rooms

I did not have any technical difficulties using the equipment in the Flex rooms. At the beginning of the semester, I took a bit of time to get familiar with the tools, but it was not complicated. I only had to press a couple of buttons at the beginning of each class to start the system of microphones and cameras.

For now, the policy of LaSalle College is to only allow people who are going through a peculiar situation to attend the class remotely (illness, isolation, being outside of town, etc.).

However, I was personally attracted by the spirit of the HyFlex teaching formula, which allows each student to choose freely how they will participate to every class, according to their current needs. I then asked my administration to allow more students to attend remotely for one of my classes, and they accepted.

During the planning of this dual-mode course, one of my fears was that every student would choose to attend online and that I would end up alone in class. Thus, I decided to offer 10 “remote seats” (for a group of 30 students) for each class. The students who want to attend the class remotely need to reserve their place, ahead of time. It has happened a few times that the 10 places were taken and that I had to refuse 1 or 2 students to participate remotely. But, to my surprise, most of the time, many remote seats remained free. Often, there were only 3 or 4 attending remotely.

Blended and dual-mode teaching

Blended teaching is a combination of in-person, synchronous and asynchronous remote teaching.

The pioneers of blended teaching have generally developed this approach by allowing students to choose the participation modality that works best for them for each class.

Well before the pandemic, Eductive was already presenting real life stories of teachers that had put in place blended teaching:

  • The real life story [in French] of a teacher who, already in 2010, broadcast his classes online and recorded them to allow them to be watched later
  • The real life story of a teacher who, in 2018, had built their course so that the students could, according to their needs, attend in person or complete asynchronous activities

Dual-mode teaching [in French] has been taking more and more space in colleges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a combination of in-person and synchronous remote teaching, without the possibility to participate in an asynchronous manner. In many cases, presently, the choice of the modality of participation is not entirely up to the student. (Online participation may be reserved to students in isolation, for example.)

Dual-mode teaching. Adapted from Franklin, K.B. (2020) Models of course delivery

Guiding the students

I think it is important that the students have a very clear idea of what is expected from them. In my course outline, the activities to complete for each class (before, during, and after the class) are detailed for the in-person and the remote students.

This does not mean that I had to prepare 2 different courses for the semester! The pedagogical activities are the same for the 2 groups of students. It is simply that, since the participation modality is different, the instructions may vary a little.

Class routine and netiquette

To put in place a class routine and make lessons run smoother, I wrote a netiquette. I often refer to it at the beginning of the semester, until the habits are well in place.

Netiquette

Before the class

  • Bring your computer and your headphones.
  • Turn on your computer and log onto Teams.
  • In-person students:
    • You can turn on your camera or keep it off.
    • Turn off your microphone.
  • Remote students:
    • Turn on your camera.
    • Turn off your microphone.
  • Open your OneNote notebook and your textbook.

During the class

  • Remote students:
    • Keep your camera on during the entirety of the class.
    • Have a question? Raise your hand on Teams or write it down in the chat.
    • Ask questions to the in-person students.
    • Do not hesitate to answer the questions of the other students.
    • Smile; you are in front of a camera! 😊
  • In-person students:
    • Keep your microphone off
    • Have a question? Speak loudly and clearly, so that the remote students can hear, or write it in the chat.
    • Ask questions to remote students.
    • Do not hesitate to answer other students’ questions.

After the class

  • Upload your notes to your personal notebook (OneNote)
  • Upload the collaborative work to your team’s space.

Team projects in dual-mode

During team projects, in one of my courses, I tried as much as I could to form teams containing in-person students as well as remote students (rather than group the remote students together).

In my other course, I use team-based learning and set up fixed teams for the entirety of the semester. Thus, through the weeks, the teams took turns experimenting dual-mode teamwork, depending on the situation of each member.

For dual-mode team work to be possible in class, I ask in-person students to bring headphones. The team discussions are much less chaotic when everyone is wearing headphones!

Creating a positive class climate

To create a nice class dynamic, I take special care of my communication with the students.

I want my students to feel my openness towards them, whether they be attending in person or remotely. I take the time to chit chat with them. I ask them how they are doing. I ask the remote students about their experience. I ask the in-person students what they think about having some remote students in the class. In short, I gauge the mood of the class. It is then easier for the students to come see me if they have a question or a concern!

Following a suggestion of one of my colleagues, I like to let my students answer the questions that are asked by their peers. When questions about the content are asked (in the chat or orally, in person or online), the students answer them. This allows to increase the interactions during the class, but also to check if, in general, the students understand the concepts or not. I jump in for a correction, if needed. It becomes a bit of a game for them: some try to ask trick questions to their friends. It is fun, but also very useful!

Being there for in-person students as much as remote students

I want to make sure to be there for the students who are in class with me as much as for the ones attending remotely.

At the beginning of each class, I write on the board (or ask a student to write on the board) the name of all the students who are attending remotely. It allows me to call on them easily even if they are not in front of me.

I see the remote students on the screens installed on the walls of the class, but their names are a bit too small for me to read them properly. At the beginning of the semester, before I have learned the name of every student by heart, the list of names allows me to interact with those I cannot point at physically. The list also allows the students in the classroom to call on their colleagues easily!

Active learning: a winning approach in dual-mode teaching

I focus on active learning and flipped classroom. I find both of those approaches to be very effective for dual-mode teaching. Effectively, it seems to me that the online students need to be even more active than the students in class to remain focused. It is too easy for remote students to start doing something else!

When I ask students to do a case study or when they work in teams, they are in action. They are focused and productive, no matter if they are attending the class in person or remotely.

Dual-mode assessment

For the exams, I go for an open-book formula. The students complete a digital version of the exam, whether they are in class or at home. They can consult all the resources that they want. Thus, neither the in-person or the remote students have an advantage over the others, since they all complete the exam in the same conditions.

This works very well with collaborative exams as well, which I have described in another real life story. I organized dual-mode collaborative exams in the course where I put in place a team-based learning approach.

Other types of evaluation also work well for dual-mode assessment:

  • oral presentations
  • video recordings
  • projects
  • text analysis, synthesis

A formula to repeat

This semester (winter 2022), the course that I give was not especially compatible with dual-mode teaching: it is a class related with students’ end of studies project. However, when I will have the opportunity, I plan to give dual-mode classes again.

Obviously, the first time that I tried this approach, I had to spend some additional time preparing my lessons. Now that I am used to dual-mode teaching, I know that the course preparation will be faster and easier next time!

And you, have you tried dual-mode teaching during the last few semesters? Share your experience in the comment section below!

AQPC Webinar

On February 11, 2022, I hosted a webinar for the Association québécoise de pédagogie collégiale (AQPC) [in French] on the topic of dual-mode teaching, in English. You can watch the recording below.

Dual-mode teaching in Flex Rooms

Numérique 2022 conference

On May 26, 2022, I will give a presentation about dual-mode teaching at the Numérique 2022 conference [in French] of Journées du numérique en enseignement supérieur 2022.

About the author

Julie Hébert

Teacher at LaSalle College’s International School of Hotel Management & Tourism since 2008, Julie Hébert has initiated many projects to highlight the achievements of students outside of the college (Ambassador program and digital badges program). She regularly hosts workshops and webinars about various pedagogical practices. She is the coordinator of the Groupe de recherche en innovations pédagogiques (GRIP), a group she founded that aims to encourage the use of innovative pedagogies at LaSalle College. In 2020, she received the AQPC’s Honourable Mention for the excellence of her work

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