Creating a hybrid classroom – TRU Newsroom
A business law professor at the Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics has implemented the use of hybrid technology in his classroom to provide a unique and flexible learning experience for his students. By utilizing a combination of in-person and virtual instruction, John O’Fee can meet the learning needs of all of his students, whether or not they can attend classes in person.
“Prior to COVID-19, I had served as chair of the Interior Health Authority. Travelling to Kelowna for periodic meetings was proving cumbersome and expensive. As such, we started using an online web conferencing platform which saved me a lot of time and travel. When COVID-19 hit, I had the benefit of experience with online conferencing as well as having all the equipment necessary to conduct online sessions. This allowed me to resume live classes immediately after our extended winter break,” says O’Fee.
O’Fee has set up his classroom with technology for virtual participation. This includes motion-tracking cameras and conference room microphones to capture the in-person class, as well as using a platform like Zoom so students can also join remotely. During class, O’Fee engages both in-person and virtual students. For example, he uses interactive polls or quizzes that all students can participate in, regardless of where they are. He encourages virtual students to participate in class discussions and ask questions.
Students appreciate the flexibility this provides for their schedules and circumstances.
“The feedback from students has generally been positive. Some constructive feedback on poor sound quality has caused me to explore better solutions in that area and this is less of a problem now. Hybrid has allowed students to participate in courses where in other situations they may have had to drop or withdraw from the course. I have had a parent whose child required surgeries in Vancouver able to attend the course online while still providing support for that child. Whenever a student is sick, they know that they can remain home while still attending class as required,” says O’Fee.
“I have faced some challenges in terms of sound quality, but I have been able to work on finding solutions for that. Other than that, the transition to using hybrid technology has been fairly smooth.”
His use of hybrid technology serves as a model for how technology can be used to enhance the traditional classroom experience and make it more accessible to all students. The hybrid creates a flexible, personalized and inclusive learning environment that caters to the diverse needs of students.