Welcome to the last 2021 issue of “The Educationalist”! It’s been a(nother) challenging year, one that has pushed us to reinvent our teaching and redefine (and often transgress) our limits. Throughout all this, though, we found it useful - and often easier- to talk to each other about our teaching practice, to learn from each other, and even to start new collaborations. This newsletter has two parts. In the first part, true to an already established tradition, I’m sharing a collection of resources I’ve curated over the past months on the topic of hybrid teaching. Hopefully these will prove useful in the near future, which still looks full as uncertainties. The second part is dedicated to wrapping up the 2021 faculty development journey “Around the world”, which I invite you to visit on my blog. Hope you find some enjoyable holiday reading or listening (there are some podcasts too) and I wish you a very nice and relaxing holiday!
Designing for hybrid… and beyond
There is no secret that I am no big fan of hybrid teaching. Especially when it is no more than an ill-prepared (if prepared at all) last resort alternative when in-person teaching becomes difficult. Of course, like with any approach, and especially when technology is involved, good learning design is crucial, yet often overlooked. Moreover, good hybrid teaching- or at least reasonably good- requires a lot of time and resources to support teachers and learners. I refer here to both pedagogical support (how to design for learning in a hybrid environment) and technical support (hardware, software, rather intensive IT support).
My personal preferences notwithstanding, I have been gathering useful resources on this topic for some time now, resources that come in very handy especially in my faculty development work. This is why I decided to share them here as well, for future reference and ease of use.
But before that, here are three things I would like us to remember when pondering over the hybrid teaching option:
be mindful and try to create an inclusive environment: the biggest challenge is my view is bringing the two groups (online and in-person students) together, without favouring one over the other, consciously or unconsciously; I suggest we think of it as hosting a party where we strive to make all groups of guests equally welcome; it does take more bandwidth than either in-classroom or fully online teaching but I think it is the key to successful hybrid teaching;
don’t underestimate the need for technical support: this is not a cheap or easy option; to get it right we need not only to rethink our teaching but we need quite a lot of support, especially with the technical aspects;
keep it simple: like in all cases when technology is involved, we need to put learning at the centre and not the tools; technology is there to help us and facilitate learning, if designed in intentionally. In the end, good hybrid teaching is good teaching.
And here are some useful resources when it comes to designing for hybrid:
Hybrid-Flexible Course Design. Implementing student-directed hybrid classes, by Brian J. Beatty- a book that provides readers with strategies, methods, and case stories related to Hybrid-Flexible (HyFlex) course design;
Teaching Tools: Active Learning while Physically Distancing- a very useful crowdsourced resource initiated by Louisiana State University providing ideas for various formats according to learning goals;
Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms, by Derek Bruff- a resource full of practical activity examples and ways to make your hybrid class inclusive and engaging;
6 Tips for Teaching Online and In Person Simultaneously, by Amy E. Crook and Travis W. Crook- six strategies to promote meaningful engagement for online students while at the same time providing a rich in-person learning environment;
Better outcomes for students = build community- great article by Catherine Bovill that emphasises the idea of inclusiveness and community to create a positive learning experience regardless of the environment;
Synchronous hybrid learning in times of social distancing: A report and case study on benefits, trainer’s challenges, and guidelines, by Julia Priess-Buchheit- an article that outlines some benefits, challenges and guidelines for trainers to achieve a rich hybrid learning experience;
Designing Hybrid Spaces for Learning in Higher Education Health Contexts- article by Jennifer K. Green that focuses on the role of learning design in optimising the hybrid learning experience;
Researching the challenges and opportunities of hybrid teaching, blog post by Jane Secker summarising the experience of undertaking a literature review on hybrid teaching to help inform guidance for teaching staff (including some useful resources too);
Teaching Here and There- a podcast series for exploring emerging practices in hybrid teaching in Higher Education, with Dominic Pates, Dr. Ivan Sikora and James Rutherford; I had the honour of featuring, together with Dr. Maha Bali, in the latest episode;
#LTHEchat 212 Adapting to the New Normal: Hybrid, Hyflex &Dual Mode teaching and Learning, led by Danielle Hinton & Rachelle O’Brien- you can read the summary of the Twitter chat and you can find a list of resources related to the chat here;
Hybrid (Hyflex & Dual Mode) Teaching- a board full of resources (in case you need any more!) on the topic of hybrid/ hyflex teaching.
“Around the world” faculty development stories
Throughout the pandemic I’ve been extremely fortunate to get to know some amazing people involved in faculty development in different countries. We’ve kept exchanging ideas and started a great dialogue, both very useful for our practice and thought-provoking in relation to the future of Higher Education and our role in it. My idea to curate some of these stories and present them together on my blog originated in the desire to capture this dialogue, to give it a more sustainable space, compared to the elusiveness of Twitter.
So back in April 2021 we started a virtual journey around the world. We travelled from Australia to Finland, from South Africa to the UK, from US to Italy and from Portugal to Hong Kong. What resulted is a rich collection of examples of faculty development work from a variety of contexts and taking different shapes. The overarching goal is to reflect on our practice and share it with peers in an effort to build a portfolio of models and ideas that can inspire the broader community.
So here is a wrap-up of this year’s stories (blog posts and podcasts), with huge thanks to all the contributors!
A group-based approach to online course design, by Kate Mitchell, University of Melbourne, Australia; she outlines a course design approach she used with her colleagues and reflects on what are the benefits, in terms of scalability and sharing practice, and also the challenges that it presents;
From solo artists to jazz ensembles: Peer support as a tool for teacher development, by Sanna Eronen, University of Vaasa, Finland, who invites us to reflect on the importance of peer support and collaborative approaches to faculty development;
Sharing stories and practices of assessment in emergency remote teaching, by Sukaina Walji, University of Cape Town, South Africa; together with her colleagues at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching, she put together a very useful collection of case studies on assessment practices during the pandemic;
Inter-institutional partnerships in faculty development: A crowdsourced list with examples form around the world;
“Around the world” podcast, episode 1: Jessamyn Neuhaus, where we talk about Jessamyn’s approach to faculty development as a connector and curator and her personal experience before and during Covid-19;
“Around the world” podcast, episode 2: Online Learning Toolkit (OLT), where Judith Dutill and Melissa Wehler, co-creators of Online Learning Toolkit, offer some useful tips on how to support faculty beyond the pandemic, focusing on the community aspect;
For real change, we need educational leaders who are CHIC, by Colin Simpson, Monash University, Australia, who shares his thoughts on the features Higher Education leaders need;
Crossing boundaries: Reflections by a former academic developer, by Tracy Zou, Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she shares her first impressions after transitioning from a faculty development to a faculty role;
One for all, and all for one: A nationwide vision of inter-institutional faculty development, by Manuel João Costa (University of Minho) and Sandra Soares (University of Aveiro), Portugal, where they reflect on a successful inter-institutional initiative to establish a network for faculty development in Portugal;
“Around the world” podcast, episode 4: Multimedia support for teaching and learning, with Marco Toffanin, where Marco talks about supporting faculty in using multimedia content before and during the pandemic and about future plans for using multimedia in education at University of Padova;
“Around the world” podcast, episode 5: Faculty learning communities, with Adina Dudau, where Adina talks about how she embraces a peer learning and evidence-based approach when it comes to her teaching practice.
Stay tuned for more inspiring stories in 2022!