What is Hybrid, Anyway? Roundtable Reflections

Posted in: Education

By Joshua Herring on Jul 28, 2022

Vistacom had the pleasure to bring technology leaders at various colleges and universities together for a roundtable-style discussion. From lessons learned during the pandemic to evolving classroom design and staffing challenges, we heard diverse insights around next-generation technology planning and how a roadmap of digital transformation has become essential to the success of any institution’s adoption of new technology deployments.

During the roundtable discussion, it quickly became clear that the transition of classrooms for remote and hybrid learning means something different to everyone. Together, we workshopped the question: what even is hybrid learning? Check out some of the pivotal reflections and key insights that came out of our roundtable event:

Tim Belloff
Arcadia University

As a result of the pandemic, Instructional Technologists were thrust into a situation that was like the Superbowl of modernizing learning in higher education. It became integral to determine how to move forward and evolve classroom learning. As a result, we had to make adjustments to serve two sets of populations: students who are unable to be physically present and those who still desired to learn on campus as quarantine lifted.

Relevant to many applications, digital transformation is a top priority of our school’s strategic plan. Integrating camera technologies was the first step. Putting classroom design to the side, professors will want to be able to do effective lecture capture, or even bring in guest speakers virtually, so there was value beyond just enabling learning that included remote participants.

Plus, incorporating displays so that instructors could actually see the students on a screen rather than just hearing a disembodied head was a game-changer, in addition to strategic microphone placements to clearly pick up what not only the instructor, but all students are saying—anywhere in the room.

Ray Pryor
King’s College

For us, our strategic plan involved preparing for disasters since 9/11—how do we ensure continuity of instruction no matter what? Investing in the right infrastructure and learning technologies were an important part of that.

Fortunately, having AV and IT under the same umbrella allowed us to be on the forefront of that growing need for convergence; and it makes life a lot easier when it comes to situations like the pandemic. The easy part was when everyone was quarantined. Now, the real challenge is executing a hybrid environment. As far as adoption, this extended from our Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) mission and working with IT. Mobility while instructing has become a part of pedagogy across the campus and departments.

Yet, we have to look at what hybrid enables from the student perspective. We literally drew the idea on a napkin, which Vistacom helped turn into a hybrid learning environment that now allows students and teachers to have a more interactive experience, even when participating virtually, and has become extremely easy-to-use and intuitive for instructors.

LizBeth Johnson
Penn State Lehigh Valley

Our team did a great job at moving everyone into the Cloud and having an LMS in place to scale up, with staff already used to distance learning. The execution of the pedagogy is what needs to evolve. What I found is that, hybrid learning is just the way we should be learning in general; it’s a mindset, not necessarily classroom technology. Professors teach in the way that emulates how they were taught—and it’s hard to pull people out of that. Getting them into that hybrid mindset is shifting, and now we need to continue to move the needle.

What’s interesting is that hybrid has really become a label, but it should just be the norm. If you think about what the lives of our students are like, they need flexibility. It doesn’t necessarily mean one thing or another, but enabling technology-enhanced learning starts with helping our instructors become more open to what provides flexibility, and from there, construct engaging learning environments for today’s students.

Tim McCann
Lehigh Valley Health Network – Education Infrastructure

The buzzword in 2020 to 2021 was “pivot.” We were blessed that we had partnerships and the basic infrastructure to expand distance learning. But the challenge was bringing everyone together and getting people familiar with newly designed classrooms once we decided to get ahead of the curve and integrate virtual and hybrid learning capabilities.

It does seem that there’s a change amongst younger generations that’s crucial to be embraced by learnership at institutions. When the expectation becomes that the walls in the classrooms are no longer there, true change for the betterment of learning and teaching will happen.

Jeff Gutkin
Saint Elizabeth’s University

With experience in online learning, we had integrated many distance learning courses with pre-built content into our learning management system. Taking a step back, we then had to look at how digital transformation plays a part in that. Because of us being forced to think creatively about solutions for our students, instructional technology became more prominent. At its core, instructional design is meant to do what’s best for the student. When pedagogy aligns with various styles of remote and hybrid learning, the classroom technology design will grow from there.

From Concepts to Connected Classrooms

Hybrid and blended learning are more than just a hot new trend in education—it’s the way classrooms of the future will work. The concept in itself plays to the strengths of both in-person classroom instruction and online learning—with the added enhancements of leveraging game-changing software features. Download the brand-new e-book from Barco on their versatile, highly-engaging, human-centered technology platform, weConnect.

Still, if you don’t have an answer on how your new instructional technology plan supports the overall strategic plan, change won’t happen. Leadership will be less excited about supporting initiatives if the strategic plan isn’t aligned

In terms of student experience, one of the most common mistakes made is that only feedback from faculty is used to drive classroom technology design. Yet, there often isn’t as much of an emphasis put on how students are hearing, seeing and interacting with each other. Hybrid classroom design hinged on student collaboration goes hand-in-hand with meeting today’s youth where they are. How do you harness the change in the psychology of device-obsessed students for good? You do that by increasing student engagement.

Three Tech Takeaways

    1.  Audio and video can make or break the hybrid classroom experience. Crystal-clear sound and views will make your hybrid session seamless, collaborative and engaging for everyone.
    2.  High-quality audio is vital for comprehension of complex topics, for understanding remote and onsite peers, and for effective collaboration across media. It is also key to ensuring a seamless, unified, and equitable learning environment that will provide the same level of understanding and of participation to all involved.
    3.  A consistent, high-definition video experience will convey the sense of a shared, unified experience. It will support in-depth collaboration, enhance productivity and help forge meaningful connections. It will aid participants to feel and present their best, at home or onsite.

Enriched learning experiences in today’s education landscape are made possible on campus, online, and in a hybrid format with state-of-the-art AV and collaboration systems.

Reach out to our classroom technology experts to discover the possibilities for your institution’s future.
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