Tips for Multi-Modality or Hybrid Teaching

Multi-modality instruction, sometimes referred to as hybrid instruction, involves teaching when some student are physically in the classroom and others are simultaneously remote.

This guide offers some definitions and practices for managing multi-modality instruction —

How can I help in-person and remote students have a cohesive learning experience in a multi-modality classroom?

Creating a classroom where face-to-face students and remote students feel part of a cohesive learning experience requires intentionality.  Be transparent that this is new to all of you, and ask your students to be patient and make suggestions while you all acclimate. Experiment!

  • Visit the Multi-Modality Classrooms page to learn about the equipment and support available in different Tufts classrooms for hybrid teaching
  • Use Zoom or Echo360 in your classroom to livestream a view of you and your whiteboard with remote students. Visit the multi-modality classrooms page to learn more about how.
  • Some classrooms are equipped with two cameras. One can be faced toward in-person students so remote students can see them. The other can be focused on the front of the room to show the instructor, whiteboard, etc. 
  • Experiment with having students in the classroom signed into Zoom for a portion of the class. They should mute audio and speakers to avoid audio feedback. When all students are signed into Zoom, both face-to-face and remote students can see one another, write in the chat, raise hands to be called on, and annotate the virtual whiteboard or slides you are using. (The downside is that in-person students will be looking at their screens so you may not want to do this for a whole class.)  
  • You may want to schedule some class sessions with the whole class on Zoom remotely, so students can see each other and interact as a whole – consider doing this at the beginning of the semester.  
  • Invite small, mixed groups of in-person and remote students to virtual office hours in the beginning of the semester. 

See Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms (Vanderbilt University) for more ideas.

How can I support fully online students in a multi-modality course?

  • Remember that students taking your course fully remotely should be able to engage in a learning experience equivalent to (but not necessarily the same as) in-person students. Consider recording your class sessions for your remote students. Learn about recording with Zoom or recording with Echo360.
  • Give thought to which activities (lab work, hands-on activities, discussions, projects, group work, research, exams, etc.) can be done with no modifications for remote students, or with some modifications, or with alternatives which will have to be determined.
  • For class activities which can’t be done effectively online, consider equivalent ways to achieve the same learning objectives, similar to what you would do if a student were absent or trying to fulfill requirements to convert an incomplete grade to a letter grade. Make the expectations for attendance and participation clear.

What are some methods for doing “board” work (e.g., problem sets and equations) in a multi-modality classroom?

  • It’s very difficult for remote students to see work that you are doing on a physical whiteboard or chalkboard in a physical classroom. While some classrooms will be outfitted with two cameras, it may still be difficult for all students to see the board, so be sure to test before going live. 
  • Use the document cameras which can be found in all camera-equipped rooms. With a document camera you can write on a piece of paper or small whiteboard, and project your work to be seen both by students in the room, and, if you share that camera view, by those on Zoom.  Visit this guide to learn about sharing the document camera.
  • If you don’t have access to a document camera in the room, you can position your webcam, phone or iPad with a tripod over the paper or surface where you are working. Learn more about how to integrate a second camera into your Zoom meeting.
  • You can integrate an iPad or tablet and, using a stylus, do an equation or problem set so that the students can see you working through the problem. Learn more about how to integrate a second device into your Zoom meeting.

Work with Tufts Educational Technology Services (ETS) to explore these and other strategies,

How do I manage real-time questions if some students are in-person and others are remote?

  • If you are using Echo360 or Zoom, ask students to enter questions into Zoom’s chat, or Echo360’s Q&A forum while you are lecturing or presenting didactic content. Set an alarm for every 10 or 15 minutes to remind you to pause and check in with students, and to respond to questions or comments students have submitted.
  • Ask a TA or invite a couple of students students to volunteer as chat monitors. They can signal to you when timely and important questions have been asked.
  • Though the TA or student chat monitors (or other students) can respond to questions in the chat, it can be distracting, so be clear on how and when to use the chat with your students.

How can I do small group work in a multi-modality classroom?

  • This can be challenging, but there are a few ways you might experiment with this. Students in the room could log out of Zoom and talk in pairs or triads (though it gets very loud quickly because of distancing and masks). While in-room discussion is underway, you can create breakout rooms for remote students in Zoom. Learn more about Zoom breakout rooms here.
  • Use collaborative, non-verbal tools that everyone can edit anonymously, or non-anonymously, such as Canvas chat, Google Docs, Box Notes, Piazza, or other tools). You can use these tools to set up collaborative spaces for each group to interact, and then later each group can report back on their work. This could also be structured so that all students can view what other groups are doing – e.g. with a shared Google Doc.

How do I create assignment groups or project groups in a multi-modality classroom?

  • When creating assignment groups, consider the logistics and benefits of either grouping together students who are in the same in-class or remote sessions, or deliberately mixing students from different sessions. 
  • Grouping students who are not in the same sessions is a good way to promote a learning community among all students in your class (and break down the barriers between the session groups). Students can use Canvas chat or Google Docs to “discuss” in non-verbal ways, annotate a text, or use a whiteboard. They can use their own Zoom rooms to hold live meetings outside of class time.
  • Alternatively, if you’re using a rotating system, where students rotate into the in-person classroom, using time-based session groups (Monday group, Wednesday group, etc.) might make logistical sense, especially if you want to use in-class time to have students work in groups.