student having an online lesson

Hybrid Teaching

 …coming soon to a tutorial room near you!

Since the shutdown, we have all lived through a crash course on how to teach and learn online, and have no doubt picked up some great clues and valuable techniques. We’re all very familiar with how to do tutorials face-to-face, although of course there are always things we can improve. 

Through Semester 2 (2020) we will still have students who are unable to physically come to class – whether that is because they still cannot travel to Australia, or they are quarantined or isolated, or we simply can’t fit the whole class into the room while abiding by social distancing. 

So pretty much all courses will need to continue online. But many courses also will have the opportunity of holding some classes on campus.   

So – here’s the rub: we can do 100% online; we can do 100% face-to-face; but how do you run a tutorial with some students in the room and several others online? You know, like when you invited your in-laws to ZOOM in to a laptop sitting on your dining table and watch you eating Easter dinner 😊 – how does everyone get a fair share of the chocolate? 

Sadly, the obvious and simple solution of just running up ZOOM on the lectern computer won’t really work. You could project some slides and share your screen in ZOOM, but the online students won’t be able to see anyone in the room.

You can project your ZOOM so the on-campus class can see the ‘Brady Bunch’ of online students on the screen, but not at the same time as your slides, and the online students will still only see each other.   

The audio issues are even trickier. You could set it up so that your voice and the online students are recorded, if you happen to be in an ECHO equipped room, but generally the room audio is not fed into the computer, so the online students won’t hear anything you say, and neither the recording nor the online students will catch comments from the students in the room. Students in the room can join the ZOOM session on their own devices, but that is a recipe for some nasty feedback events. 

Hybrid teaching spaces to the rescue! 

The ITS teams, along with the Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT) and ANU Timetabling, are working to provide the webcams, microphones and instructions needed to be able to get hybrid tutorials working nicely.  This will be implemented in 16 centrally timetabled tutorial rooms initially, plus each College is invited to nominate a couple more rooms to be included.  

The expectation is that there will only be a few on-campus activities at the start of Semester 2 (2020), but they will increase as pandemic restrictions are further relaxed and more people move back onto campus.  If the Hybrid tutorial proves to be a popular learning and teaching mode, more rooms can be progressively equipped. 

June 2020


Jenny Edwards is a Learning Environment specialist in the Education Communities and Environments (ECE) team – one of three teams within the ANU Centre for Learning and Teaching (CLT).

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