I learned the other day that a large university here in the Boston area has committed to equipping all of its registrar classrooms (more than 200) with video conferencing by the fall. What does this mean, and can we then consider them to be hybrid classrooms? What is a “hybrid classroom” anyway?
With all the usual caveats about how rooms differ and terminology is never universally agreed, we can define a hybrid classroom as one designed for simultaneous teaching to local students in the room, as well as remotely-located students connected by video. The teaching is live, not recorded, and the classes are fully interactive for both local and remote attendees. The instructor must be able to see and hear local and remote students equally well, and be close enough to everyone so that facial cues can be recognized. Here’s a good example of a flexible hybrid space https://www.imec-int.com/en/what-we-offer/research-portfolio/lecture
Video conferencing is an element in these classrooms, but it’s not sufficient. Local and remote students are equally present in the room. There are tools such as polling to enhance student engagement. Microphone and camera placement have been carefully considered. To allow the instructor to teach, there’s a technical assistant.
Yet despite the substantial technology needed to make them function, these rooms don’t have to come across as complex. Done well, the technology serves teaching objectives, clearly stated and adhered to.