Building Community in Hybrid and Online Learning

In common usage we often use the word “community” to refer to physical spaces. Because of this, it can be easy to feel that creating a classroom community in a virtual space is difficult or even impossible. But in fact, Gen Z knows that all of the aspects of community can be (even more) successfully created in a flex-hybrid course - and doing so only rarely requires more work for an instructor than for fully in-person classes. (Really!) ... Read More
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Virtual Learning Spaces

There are four principles for making the virtual spaces in your course pleasant and conducive to learning: Keep them psychologically safe; Make them simple and familiar; Add visual appeal; Pay attention to physical comfort. ... Read More
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Streamlined Communication Processes

An important part of building community is to develop shared expectations around the type, tone, and frequency of communication between people in the community. When designing a flex-hybrid course, you should make sure that everyone understands what communication channels you will use and how, and how often, you will use them. ... Read More
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Inclusivity in Virtual Discussions

Making sure that everyone participates in class discussions is vital for building community in a flex-hybrid course. We know how to get students to participate in discussions in our physical classrooms, and the good news is that we can emulate those same techniques for virtual or hybrid class meetings as well. In some cases, it’s even easier to use these techniques virtually than in-person. This is because flex-hybrid teaching naturally lends itself to using a wider range of modalities for discussion, which allows a more diverse set of voices to “have the floor”. Here are some techniques that you can use to include everyone in your flex-hybrid class discussions. ... Read More
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Reducing “Zoom Fatigue”

"Zoom fatigue” is a real thing - it comes from the additional cognitive load imposed by trying to parse interpersonal interactions in a space where you can’t see a person’s full body and other physical cues that you get during in-person meetings. Here are some simple but effective ways to minimize Zoom fatigue. ... Read More
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Building Community at the Start of Your Course

The first day of class is a very important one in terms of creating community in any course, and particularly so in a flex-hybrid course. In fact, you can even start building community in advance of the first day. ... Read More
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Developing Community with Breakout Discussion Groups and Other Group Work

Breakout group activities during synchronous class sessions can be a great way to build community, and although they require a bit more initial setup for video class sessions than in a fully in-person classroom, once you have the basic infrastructure in place, breakout groups are quite easy to manage. In fact, in some ways the management of virtual breakout groups is easier than in-person breakout groups. ... Read More
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Supporting Informal and Impromptu Conversations in Virtual Learning

In-person teaching allows for unplanned informal discussions before, during, and after class. These discussions are vital for creating and maintaining both strong and weak social ties among students and faculty. While such conversations are harder to recreate in a flex-hybrid classroom, it is possible - and this year, it might even be easier to have these conversations in a virtual space than a physical one. ... Read More
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Leveraging Videoconference Chat Tools

Zoom chat should not be dismissed as a "distraction" - it can be a great way to promote inclusion and encourage participation. This post covers ways you can use chat in your classroom and teaches you the tech you need to know to make it happen. ... Read More
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