How Hybrid Classrooms Change the Game
The first time I heard about teaching in a hybrid format, I was intrigued. Hybrid classes are a fusion of online and traditional in-seat formats. Having taught both online and "in-seat" classes, I liked the idea of combining the best parts of each. For instance, one interesting thing I noticed with online classes is that students read the textbook more! But in-seat classes have a more personal feel and produce better discussions.
After a year of teaching in the hybrid classroom format, here are my takeaways.
Find a Balance
One of the first things you need to decide is how you want to split time between online and in-seat. Your balance really has a lot to do with your teaching style and which aspects of each format you like best. I've found I prefer an even split: half in-seat and half online.
If you aren't the most tech-savvy person already, you will have to embrace technology. This can be tricky and there may be a learning curve. Look for programs such as lecture capture or presentation tools, digital textbooks and virtual office hours. One aspect that my students really seem to love is recorded online lectures; they make it easy to watch lectures on a student's own schedule and even allow for pausing and rewinding.
Keep It Simple
Hybrid is a new format not just for the teachers, but for students as well. Prevent confusion by keeping things simple, clear and consistent with your syllabus and course schedule. For instance, schedule a quiz that is due on the same day each week. This type of consistency helps students stay on track of readings and complete their assignments.
Hybrid classes are a game changer for me. There are more activities that I can do during our time in class because students come prepared and ready for discussion. I also can do more activities online as well, such as a "mini art exhibit" where students post pictures of their food environments.
There are many ways to structure hybrid classes, and no one way is right for everyone. These classes take time to design and structure, but the rewards are worth it. I have found that hybrid classes really allow for a more meaningful classroom where students can make the connection between nutrition and their own health.
Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, CLT, is a lecturer at California State University, Long Beach and has her own private practice.
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