From Judith McDaniel
I do like teaching hybrid classes. From my perspective, they combine the best of online and face-to-face experiences for my students.
I enjoy meeting and interacting with students in person. Some information is easier to convey in a lecture and powerpoint format when I am there to answer questions, sense what is clear to them and monitor what is not.
Online discussion groups once a week also work well for me and the students. They have three days to read the material associated with the prompt, respond to it, and then agree or disagree with a fellow student.
One day early in the semester, to give them the feel of a discussion, I used our in class time to divide my 20+ students into two groups. I set up a proposition based on the article they had read for that day, assigned one group to “pro” and one to “con,” gave them 10 minutes to confer with the group and then started the debate. Some seemed to enjoy the exercise, a few participated reluctantly, and several said not a word.
I noticed those students, and when the online discussions began the following week, I monitored them closely, encouraging those who seemed reluctant to advance an opinion. Within a couple of weeks, everyone participated, everyone was advancing and questioning opinions based on evidence from the reading.
At the end of the semester, I did my usual evaluations, online and in person. As we sat in the classroom, the students talked about how much they had learned from the online discussions, how much they had enjoyed learning one another’s opinions. “I wish we could have known one another in class as well,” said one woman. “Yes,” chimed in another. “I never knew who was who in class. I’d like to have put a face to the names in my discussion group.”
Of course. I assumed they all knew one another, they were, after all, all majors in the same department. But this is a large university and for the most part they were strangers to one another in our face-to-face class. The next time I teach this class, that won’t happen. I will make sure we work in groups, match names to faces and opinions. One easy option is to encourage them all to post a photo with their profile on the classlist.
But it has made me wonder. What other dots have I failed to connect between the online and in class portions of this course?