how i learned to 混




how i learned to 混

It turns out that I only began seriously to do hybrid learning because of a situation out of my control: in february 2020, with the pandemic raging in the united states, the berklee college of music, where I was teaching previously, went completely remote. suddenly, I had to think about students living in several different time zones

it took more than just making recordings of lectures

11: 11: some my students couldn't participate in asynchronous remote classes without living on vampire time
11: 11: some my students couldn’t participate in our synchronous remote classes without living like vampires

some students could join us in synchronous meetings, but many couldn’t without living on vampire time…

suddenly, all of us teaching from our cramped houses with sometimes unstable internet–not to mention furry friends, spouses, and kids underfoot–had to learn to 混 and in a hurry!

i was like


as i suppose most of us were

but how i learned to 混 had much to do with questions i had about teaching already. for example, i had interests in universal design for learning (UDL) and goals to change my course sites and teaching plans in relationship with learning design principles from UDL


OK–now a quick question for y’all before I move on

(1) how might hybrid learning / teaching serve in the practice of universal design?

(if i could do this as a lesson page there’d be a quiz here now!)


when i began to 混 i did some research by taking a couple courses in coursera, a popular asynchronous MOOC site

but i learned something about interminable video lectures….

i discovered that YIKES! i could not make it through even 20 minute videos without losing interest. for me, at least, there was a problem of remaining engaged


so i had to think about the pieces in which i would present lecture like material and also consider how students could do the kinds of work i might normally do in the classroom (or in synchronous format, like small group discussions in breakout rooms)

i wish that i could show you the results of what i did on the berklee OL site, berklee’s equivalent of NTU COOL–but i no longer have access to that material

what i can say is that for the asynchronous version of classes, i had to break down what i might normally do in a thirty minute lecture into five to seven minute pieces, followed by quizzes. because the “lesson” function in OL allowed me to link pages with quizzes, i could intersperse short sections where i gave a lecture with powerpoint slides and quizzes (with multiple choice or short answer questions). i could also ask students to look at and comment on images or texts in relationship to the lecture material or their readings for the week

maintaining connection

the broken up format worked well. but it still was a bit lacking when it came to engagement with the students. for this to work asynchronously, i asked students to submit either writing or short videos on the course site’s discussion board–but also asked that they comment on and discuss each other’s work in a second round




letting the students post videos and images in their virtual discussions and commentary made this section more fun and a bit more “social media” ish

still–the attrition rate for classes during the pandemic was, and remains, quite high. as much as we love FB, Insta, Snapchat, and so forth, face-to-face relations or the possibility of them still ground our engagements to community. i had (still have) to think more about engagement

maintaining engagement

i found that this kind of engagement was often not enough, however

so to create more community, i tried to group students by adjacent time zones and then find times where we could meet together every two or three weeks for a check in

this meant that i had to spend more time on teaching than usual. oh well, maybe that’s like extra office hours


what was it that i said about engagement?


what worked?

in the hybrid environment, it was possible to create a media-rich environment, in which i could combine texts, video, images, and recordings. i could also ask students to contribute to the course site in different modalities as well. this is something i’d like to keep doing even as i teach in “real space” now

but there are some problems we should think about

for me, the big takeaways are that one cannot just record lectures and think that will be enough. asynchronous learning, in particular, requires careful design of manageable “chunks” of material employing different modalities for student interaction and response

and this kind of design takes time! in the synchronous / asynchronous hybrid situation, i had to spend much more time on creating the material for asynchronous classes; and, even when i had the material in place, working with the asynchronous students meant that my office hours were much longer and sometimes at odd times of the day or night

and truth be told, we aren’t MOOC experts. we need to have a sense of honesty about how much we can–and should–do. no one signed up for remote learning; it was thrust upon us by the pandemic

we had hybridity thrust upon us: big freedia fights against the 'rona in her bounce video rona rona
we had hybridity thrust upon us: big freedia fights against the ‘rona in her bounce video rona rona

still, i think that my experience did let me expand my teaching into new modalities that i’d like to keep in place. hybrid learning

created more flexibility and access for my students

moved me closer to my goals of implementing UDL in my classes

–and it was sometimes fun



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