After reading the first blog of this series, you might already feel more confident about your overarching knowledge of different online teaching scenarios. But let’s take an even closer look at this strange creature: the hybrid classroom. In this post, you’ll find lots of practical teaching tips and solutions for the most common technical and methodological problems that teachers face in a hybrid scenario.
The dream scenario
In our dream scenario, we’d have at least one 360-degree camera that can record the whole room from all angles. Each student would have their own tablet to use, while the teacher also has one to manage the various devices and online apps from a distance. There’s an interactive whiteboard to show, share and annotate the electronic version of the coursebook and to use the online whiteboard app. A big wall-mounted additional screen can show the online students joining the class. There are also several microphones and speakers attached to the ceiling, which are properly hooked up so that there’s no echoing or feedback.
Of course, it is unlikely that you will have access to this dream scenario, unless your school has invested heavily in its tech infrastructure. Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll have a laptop for the teacher and a large screen for the students. Hopefully, you’ll have a webcam to record the class, and ideally a portable speaker and a headset for the teacher.
Hybrid teaching is going to work much more smoothly if the classroom is well-equipped. But the following tips will show that you can teach a successful lesson even with a low-tech setup.
Use the shortcomings to your advantage
You may be most worried about making sure that both the face-to-face and the online group are always on the same page, which can leave you exhausted. But why not use this situation to your advantage? You can create genuine information gap activities by sharing something with the face-to-face group while muting the ones online, or sending the online group some material (video, audio or an online article) which the physical students cannot see. This basically recreates the classic “send one student out of the classroom while the others agree on something” game.
Use online tools that let everyone interact from anywhere
Just as in any online lesson, why not make use of various online quiz tools and games in the hybrid classroom as well? Students enjoy competitive and fun games, such as Kahoot!, Quizlet Live, Quizizz, Mentimeter Quiz, and the up-and-coming GimKit, so it’s definitely worth using these to revise taught language and check students’ understanding. Another activity type you can transfer to our hybrid classroom is collaborative writing or brainstorming with the help of real-time cloud-based apps or websites. For example, Google Docs, Google Jamboard or Microsoft Word.
Use the eBook version of your course book with screen share
This is another tip that is going to make sure all students are following you even if they have left their books elsewhere. Most current course books also come with a separate online platform, which makes it easier for all students to do extra work and re-listen to audio files.
Use an online whiteboard to write on
Again, this is to keep everyone on the same page no matter if they are there, face-to-face or following the lesson online. If the whiteboard you use is a cloud-based notebook (Google Jamboard or Microsoft OneNote, for example), you don’t even have to send the files to your class; everything remains in one place.
If you’re in a low-tech environment
If all you have is a laptop, you obviously don’t have much room to move, but you can still bring in the online tools mentioned above, and you can also consider bringing in asynchronous and semi-synchronous elements. For this, you definitely need to keep using your virtual learning environment because it can keep everything organised. What I did with my own group back in the autumn of 2020, was schedule materials and questions they either had to complete in advance or during the lesson. Due to the low-tech setup, I could only give them feedback after the lesson, but this was the best I could do at the time with only one laptop and one speaker.
Don’t leave students unsupervised for a long time
You may worry about constantly dividing your attention between the two groups, which will leave both unsupervised and unsatisfied. But to manage this, you can have more open class discussions, lots of collaboration, and various dynamic tasks so students don’t lose focus. If there are only 2–3 online students, then you can still set them up with face-to-face students for group activities.
Don’t forget to enunciate
It might be hard for the online students to catch what you said. Reformulate what the face-to-face or online students said in order to make it clear for everyone.
Hybrid teaching isn’t necessarily the ideal scenario we long for, but it’s still possible to have great lessons with it! Also, putting these tricks and tips under your belt will help you be prepared for whatever the coming years hold for teaching.
In the next post, we’re going to look at timesaving planning tips for your hybrid lessons that will make managing the lesson itself much easier!
In addition, the experienced instructors of the TESOL course at Horizon TESOL will also provide you with the necessary knowledge so that you can choose the right online teaching method. Please contact us at https://tesolcourse.edu.vn/ or Facebook page Horizon TESOL – Teacher Training & Solutions