As we watched you arrive at campus, we saw that you were both excited to be “back” with your friends and colleagues but also nervous about what the new campus environment would be like, especially given that COVID remains a challenge for us all.
You will have noticed that not everyone is back on campus. Some can’t be because of their health status. Even if they are fully vaccinated, being close to others is too big a risk for them — they might be immunocompromised or living with someone who can’t be vaccinated. Others, such as international students, may not able to leave their home country at this time. This is why some or all your classes will be hybrid, with some of you in class and some online.
Hybrid learning is something you will quickly get used to. Here are five things to keep in mind in your next hybrid class:
- Whether you are in class or attending online, you are all in class. Treat everyone as if they were sitting near you and make sure you treat all as study colleagues. Don’t favour those in class over those online or vice-versa.
- Sometimes, the student attending a class online will need help or want to ask a question and your instructor may not notice that they are seeking to do so. Politely draw the instructor’s attention to their request.
- If you find yourself in a breakout group with some students online and some in the room with you, make sure all voices are heard. Be an active learner and ask questions or involve those online just as much as those in class.
- At the end of the class, reach out to those who attended online and ask if they are OK or if they missed anything. You could offer to share your notes or other materials.
- If you are online and all others are in class, mute your microphone but keep the video camera on so you are seen to be engaged. It helps everyone to feel that sense of personal connection, which doesn’t happen as well if both the camera and the microphone are turned off.
Hybrid learning is not new. It has been happening for many years all over the world. It may, however, be new to you. Accepting that it will be with us for some time and adopting an attitude of “I can make this work” is key to making it successful for all in your class. If you also take the view that learning is not a competition but a collaboration, then you can help your peers get the best out of the learning experience.
It helps if you are connecting from home or a study location to have the right kind of equipment — check with your institution — as well as a quiet space to work in. Now that public spaces are open again, you can use a study centre, library or other appropriate space if working from home is a challenge. Make sure to do a practice run before classes start.
2021-22 will be a successful year for you if you plan your time well and make good use of your friends’ and fellow classmates’ willingness to help and support your learning.
Have a great start to the new academic year!