Providing equitable learning experiences for online and in-person students is a main challenge for converged learning models.
Engaging both remote and in-person students is more challenging
This will be new, but with time, managing both in-person and online students equitably will get easier.
A good place to start is to review Digital Classroom Services’s pages Teaching in a Synchronous Learning Space and Synchronous Lecture Hall Instructions to familiarize yourself with the technology available in those classrooms.
- Look up your classroom on the Synchronous Capability Chart to identify the technology available in the room.
- If your classroom does not include handheld or ceiling microphones to capture student audio, get accustomed to repeating in-person student questions to an online audience and vice versa.
- Take note that bandwidth and audio issues (there are often loud echoes) make it difficult for in-person students to log into the Zoom/video conference session with online students.
- Plan for how to manage online chat. Perhaps check chat every 15 minutes or so and let students know what to expect. Having a TA or LA monitor chat can also be very effective.
- Use a polling tool outside of Zoom/video conferencing software. Options include Slido, Poll Everywhere, and Mentimeter.
- Ensure that both online and in-person students can see presentations and boardwork.
- Decide how to use the room’s available projectors and monitors. Do you want to have online students’ images on a monitor?
- Consider using a document camera rather than a camera pointed at a board; this is often more legible for all students.
Attendance may be unpredictable
Be prepared for the possibility of unpredictable attendance due to the flexibility of the converged format. Anecdotally, some institutions implementing converged models last fall saw a trend towards greater online attendance later in the semester. Communicate your expectations for attendance up front.
Exams take extra planning
Not all students will be in class at the same time; this will complicate administering exams. We strongly recommend considering alternatives to traditional high-stakes proctored exams.
Options for traditional timed exams include:
- Have all students complete the exam remotely.
- If you are using the "converged-alternating" format (where students alternate between attending in person and remotely), prepare and administer two exams at consecutive class meetings.
Based on student experience from remote learning, courses that provided clarity, consistency, and connection promoted successful online learning.
Remember that strong online course organization will continue to be important for student learning
Consider the best use of time for synchronous class meetings and establish a course routine
- Share shorter lecture videos beforehand and use time together for Q&A and active learning.
- Focus in-class time on collaborative activities that benefit from realtime student-student interaction or immediate instructor feedback.
- This is often referred to as a flipped classroom model. This article by Rutgers School of Engineering Professor Waheed Bajwa provides more detail about the process of flipping a large course.
Be intentional about building a learning community
Building community with socially distanced in-person and online students is more important for student learning and persistence than ever. Technology can be used to support these connections and to facilitate collaborative learning.
Strategies for building a learning community include:
- Have students post in a self-introduction discussion online before class begins. Assigning a small grade to this activity will help to ensure robust participation.
- Provide a Q&A discussion board for students to ask and answer each other's questions.
- Small group discussions can work in mixed classrooms. With socially distanced students, it helps to keep these groups small (2-3) so they can hear each other. Simultaneously, online students can interact in breakout rooms.
- Use web-based collaboration tools during class meetings to allow all students to interact in the same online space. Students appreciate having opportunities to discuss their experiences and share how things are going.
- Consider structured tasks like taking notes on shared Google docs, brainstorming using jam boards, or curating resources and ideas using Padlet. These are free, easily shared via a link, and are easy for both in-person and remote students to work on in real time. They can also extend to asynchronous learning for students who are unable to attend either in-person or remotely.