Shared norms and expectations around the content of, and behavior during, class discussion require more explicit articulation in a flex-hybrid classroom, where such norms and expectations are not as well established as for purely in-person classrooms. This means that you have to spend some class time and energy developing and articulating shared communication norms for flex-hybrid classes.
However, the upside is that if you have sometimes been frustrated by classroom discussion norms in the past, flex-hybrid teaching provides an excellent opportunity to change the rules of engagement (3).
In many face-to-face classes, instructors often provide communication ground rules in their syllabi. They might also ask students to develop communication rules together, including sanctions for rule-breaking, as a way to build community.
Explicit, shared rules are even more important in a flex-hybrid classroom setting. Students can easily be asked to collaborate on creating classroom rules using a shared Google Doc.
When working with your students to determine the communication norms and expectations for your class community, there are three main areas you should cover. Follow the links to learn more about how to manage each one in a flex-hybrid course.
- Communication logistics (these are more challenging in flex-hybrid classes, but can be managed with good planning)
- Balancing freedom/openness and respect/safety
- Encouraging everyone to join in the discussion
(3) If you are looking for more on this, check out Jay Howard’s Advice Guide, published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, on “How to Hold a Better Class Discussion”, particularly the section “7 Strategies to Change the Norms of Class Discussions”.