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If you are teaching a synchronous hybrid course or a fully online course, this blog post and the two videos included in it are for you. I’m going over some of my current strategies for teaching a hybrid course, but I’m also going over a few tips for strengthening your online instructor presence if you are teaching fully online. I want to be prepared if my university makes the switch to fully online, so I’ve given some thought to both these approaches to teaching in the fall. Let’s get started…

Teaching a Synchronous Hybrid Course

Here are a few ideas I plan on implementing in my hybrid courses. The video goes through them all in detail, but if you’re not into video watching, I list the ideas below, as well.

Pre-Course Survey

My students can choose to take their courses fully remotely rather than in hybrid form. [FYI: Hybrid for us means attending class in person once a week and attending class on Zoom once a week. That way, only half the class is sitting in the classroom at one time.] So, I want to know if a student has chosen to take my course fully remotely as soon as possible, so I can plan accordingly. As such, I’ve prepared a simple, two question survey for them to answer.

The first question asks them if they are planning to take the course remotely or in hybrid form. The second question is optional and asks them if they have anything else they want to share about their situation or themselves before the class begins. I include a couple example answers to this second question, like “I share my laptop with multiple people at home” and “I’ll be taking the course from another time zone.” I’m hoping to get all the replies to this survey before the first class takes place, but definitely by the end of the first week.

Zoom Strategies

I’m trying to have a game plan in place in case something goes wrong with the Zoom tech when teaching. Here are some ideas I have so far:

  • Have the Zoom links very easy to find for students. I have a module just for them at the top of my Canvas modules page.
  • Come to class a few minutes early to set up Zoom. Let my students know they can join the Zoom class a few minutes early so that I can let them into the Zoom call by class time.
  • Have the waiting room feature on so that I can manually add students into the Zoom call. This will help prevent “Zoom bombing.”
  • Since I won’t always be able to get to class early enough to set up everything before class time begins, have a writing prompt ready for in-class students to work on if the set up is going to take more than a minute or two of class time.
  • Tech issues might pop up at the beginning of class, so have writing prompts ready for all students (in person and online) in case I need a few minutes to set up my screen sharing materials. If this is the case, discuss the answers to the prompt for a few minutes before moving on to the regular class schedule.
  • If a Zoom tech issue that occurs during class can’t be fixed within 15 minutes after it occurs, let the Zoom students know (through Canvas) that I’ll send along a summary of what happened during the rest of class later that day. I’ll keep teaching the in-person students and try to record at least myself talking using my phone.

These are just a few plans I have for Zoom. If you have any other suggestions for me, please let me know in the comments!

“Time Bank” Late Work Policy

I accept late work no matter how late it is submitted. Students are penalized for how late it is, but if they are willing to put in effort to complete an assignment, I’m not telling them they shouldn’t bother. Effort put in will get them a grade higher than a zero. I hate zeros.

This semester, though, students have more wiggle room before having their grade penalized for turning in an assignment late. They have 48 hours in their time bank account. They can use it when turning in major assignments. How does it work? If they need four extra hours to complete an important part of unit 1, they should take it. Turn in the assignment four hours after the deadline and they now have 44 hours left in their time bank account. Their grade will not be penalized for turning in the assignment late. Need an extra 30 hours before turning in unit 3? Take it. Now they have 14 hours left (if it’s the same student).

Once the 48 hours have been used, the regular late work policy goes into place. Though, exceptions can still be made for emergencies. I’m curious to see how this approach to late work goes this semester. I learned about it from a fellow ChLA professor whose focus is accessibility, so I’m excited to try it out.

Themed Office Hours

My office hours will take place on Zoom this semester. That’s a bit too out of sight, out of mind for my taste. So, I’m planning on hosting themed office hours throughout the semester. Hopefully one a week. During these office hours, I’ll give a small talk about a topic related to that particular week. Students can join the office hour and listen in, then ask questions afterward in a casual Q&A session. I’m hoping this approach will help students feel more comfortable joining me for a one-on-one office hour meeting. Plus, I can provide extra help in relation to elements of class that at least some students are struggling with.

Final Note: Here are seven classroom management ideas for your hybrid class.

Teaching a Fully Online Course

If we go fully online at any point, then having a strong instructor presence in the online course will be pivotal for instructor-student relationships. So here are some tips for strengthening your instructor presence in an online course.

Add Graphics to Your LMS Course Website

Don’t want to create tons of videos or audio recordings? I completely understand. What can you still do to increase your instructor presence? Create graphics to include throughout your course website that can help personalize your course and show students the effort you are putting into making the course website easy to navigate and visually enjoyable. Show a bit of your personality through the graphics. Add funny memes or create engaging module banners. Divide up heavy pages of text with images. Make your course a more multimodal experience.

Canva is a great free tool to create these graphics. Here’s a video tutorial and my referral link.

Create Video Overviews for Each Module

Every module in my Canvas course corresponds to one week of class. At the top of each module is a video overview of the week. Just a 5-8 minutes (or less!) video where I go over what we’ll be working on that week. These videos don’t need heavy editing or special effects to work well. Just a simple video to remind students that there’s a real person on the other side of the screen ready and waiting to help them on their learning journey.

Here’s a whole playlist about creating videos for online teaching.

Create Video Lessons or Instruction Guides

Use videos to create lessons for your students. Or, use videos to go over assignment sheets. I show examples of both of these approaches in the video above. It’s up to you to decide how much time and effort you want to put into these videos. You can also just research YouTube videos that already exist that can help you teach your courses. For example, I have a playlist on my channel that consists of videos created by others in relation to ELA, writing, and research.

Create Video or Audio Assignment Feedback

Rather than the usual written/typed feedback for assignments, create screen recorded videos of you going over their project and offering feedback. Or, create audio recordings of your feedback using your smartphone. With these approaches, students can hear your voice (if they are able to) and remind themselves that you are there for them and are taking the time to put these recordings together to help them improve their work.

Final Thoughts

Remember that I have a whole page devoted to listing out all the online teaching related content that I’ve created this summer. There are also plenty of other resources out there about creating online lessons, like this one. If you have any of your own advice to share, please do so in the comments. I wish you the best as the semester begins. [Update: I have a lot of related content on the page I’ve linked above, since I’ve been teaching my hybrid classes for quite a few weeks now. I also have this hybrid teaching video playlist with tons of other ideas and insight.]

Comment Below: What advice do you have for hybrid and online teaching?

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Here are some tips for teaching a synchronous hybrid course and strengthening your instructor presence in a fully online course. #remotelearning #highereducation