Hybrid Teaching Workshop

March 16, 2022

as I’ve mentioned previously, we’re running some workshops to review some of our programmes with a view to changes needed in the future. As part of this process we held our first hybrid teaching workshop this week, and I thought I’d write about the general process before I write about the outputs

“Our intention is to run this workshop in a hybrid fashion - with people in a location tbc … and also online. We’ll see how much of a car crash that is …”

That’s from the invite to our latest teaching workshop, which we ran yesterday with several participants physically present in one of our seminar rooms, and more participants joining in from a Teams meeting online. It was our first hybrid teaching workshop with staff (though not our first hybrid teaching session by some distance[1]). I was a bit concerned whether anyone would actually turn up in person, especially as the weather was a typically rainy Cardiff day, but in the end we had a bunch of ‘real’ people in the room, and a bunch of equally ‘real’ but less physically present people online. It worked well, and I think it’s worth getting some thoughts down about the process.

The structure

The first thing that helped was that the session was structured very much as an active session to facilitate reflection in and gather input from the participants, but with a slight cheat in that the amount of ‘whole group’ discussion was artificially limited. The basic structure was:

  1. A short introduction from me to set the context of the workshop, lay out the plan for the session, and how it fits in with the overall review we’re doing. The aim was for this to take 5 minutes. It took 15.
  2. A first activity looking at a potential University applicant in 3-4 years time
  3. A second activity looking at a potential University graduate in 8-9 years time
  4. A third activity asking ‘what would we do if there were no rules?’

Each activity was run as a group discussion session, with groups of 6-8 people talking about the topic in question for 15-20 minutes, with a feedback session after each discussion. In order to capture the discussions the group present in the room had access to flipcharts and pens, but being a bunch of academics naturally gravitated to the whiteboard. Online the groups were in breakout rooms within the Teams meeting, and they all had access to a shared powerpoint file, with an individual slide for each room on which they could capture their discussion points.

The setup

The online meeting was in Teams and my laptop was plugged into the room’s AV system so that the teams meeting itself was displayed on the screens in the room. I kept the directional microphone on the lectern pointed at the laptop so the participants in the room could definitely hear the people online. A few of the ‘physical’ participants had their laptops with them and were also signed into Teams, so whenever they wanted to contribute to the discussion they could unmute and speak towards a device near them rather than relying on my laptop mic in the centre of the room. I had to remember to mute the audio on my laptop during those moments to avoid horrible feedback.

The reflection

Did it work? Yes. Participants both online and in the room were able to participate in the session. Some of the good things that worked well:

Some caveats on this though:

Really though, the only thing I’d change in future is try to have more of a balance of in-room vs. online participants, so perhaps at the next one we’ll try and have cake to entice a few more out of the digital space. Also we’ll not clash it with an event in the main school building that’s booked all the good seminar rooms, so we can hold it in the same building that people actually work in.

The feedback

Other people also seemed to think it worked:

The outro

Some thoughts there on the Hybrid workshop we ran. I thought it would be useful for people to hear how it went, before we dig into what we actually got out of it.

  1. I’m not here to rehash any of the arguments about hybrid teaching, or hyflex, or whatever the hell people are calling it now. My experience of hybrid teaching has been good to date, and I’ve had numerous students thank me for running hybrid sessions when they’ve not been able to make it in in person. However, as my Head of School noted today, it’s probably not for everyone and it likely suits the sort of educator who thrives on a bit of chaos in their teaching sessions, and it turns out that’s me ↩︎

Next: Computer Science Students in 2025

Previous: Programme Review