Transforming your courses into flex-hybrid versions can be challenging! It is also an opportunity to re-envision and “level up” your courses by engaging with your teaching philosophy and values, and using Backwards Design strategies to re-focus on outcomes through new pedagogical methods. We recommend pairing the reflective exercises in this article (by Rebecca Mills) with the Backwards Design Form for a comprehensive self-guided flex-hybrid design experience.
Slides summarizing this article are available here. Read on for full details.
Identify the characteristics of your teaching philosophy by exploring ideals
Your teaching philosophy is the combination of your beliefs about your role as the professor, the role of the students, materials, space, processing activities and the assessments. At its core, your educational philosophy tries to answer the question: How do I bridge the gap between the ideal teaching and learning experience and the reality of the current learning opportunity? By exploring the ideal and reality, and by finding ways to get as close to the ideal as possible, you discover your deepest values as educators.
How would you describe the ideal learning experience?
Think outside the box, this is about the ideal, the too good to be true. You might be tempted to limit yourself by defaulting to “Well, this is what I do…” Resist the temptation and dream: Maybe you dream about learning a culture by living in a new place with the most pleasant guide who invites you to explore and discover, at your own pace. Maybe they give you just enough freedom to induce high curiosity and anticipation. Still, they are there just in time to make you think twice before making a serious mistake. They know all the best places and people. And they have access to unlimited resources.
How would you describe the reality of our current teaching & learning situation?
Based on your description of reality, identify beneficial resources
- Your strengths
- The strengths of the learners
- The useful tools and materials
- Structures, methods and human resources
How would you bridge the gap between your ideal and reality?
Based on your desire to create the most ideal learning experience for your students, identify what you believe about the following:
- Role of the professor
- Role of the student
- Role of the materials
- Role of the space/place
- Role of the learning activities
- Role of assessment
Design transformational courses by exploring ideals
When you design or redesign a course for any reason, it is helpful to continue our concept of exploring the ideal. This time we focus on the ideal outcomes.
>How would you describe the ideal student?
Imagine it is the end of a semester or imagine seeing a former student on the job. You look at that student with such pride and admiration because they “turned out” exactly as you hoped. You see your influence and the influence of your course in their maturity:
- What knowledge do they possess and apply?
- What skills do they have?
- What attitudes and ways of being guide their decisions and interactions with themselves, others and the world?
- How do you know that they possess and apply their knowledge and skills and how are their attitudes expressed?
An Example: Your ideal early childhood student can think and act like a teacher. They have a working knowledge of the history and vocabulary of the field. They transfer and apply their knowledge in ways that have a positive impact on their students, parents and schools. They skillfully create engaging and varied learning experiences. They are leaders and advocates for diversity, equity and inclusion. They confidently and carefully handle discipline and development. They are committed to the field of education and are an enthusiastic life-long learner, taking every opportunity to engage in professional development and personal growth.
How will you design your course to develop students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes? And how will your students demonstrate their development?
Reimagine and redesign your courses by aiming for the ideal
Backwards Design is an approach to course design that encourages you to set learning goals for your students and then consider how your students might achieve those goals. It asks what do you want your students to know, process, and do? Then, what kind of evidence would prove your students’ knowledge or competency? Finally, based on the answers you design lessons and learning activities that scaffold and support your students’ development.
Here is a backward design form you can use to redesign your courses.
What are the required outcomes of your course? How do your students demonstrate they have achieved them?
Design Flex-Hybrid courses for Fall ‘20 by exploring ideal strategies
Flex-Hybrid courses offer multiple delivery modes of instruction and allow for blended learning (the integration of classroom and online learning), “flipped classrooms,” remote synchronous and asynchronous instruction, intentional community building, one-on-one coaching, and other “value added” options.
The reality of our current situation is one of uncertainty. For Fall ‘20, imagine your course being designed and delivered in such a way that you can take good care of yourself and your loved ones and accommodate all your students, whether they came to campus or not. Imagine having a course built out in Canvas to a point where, on any given day, you and your students could choose to participate fully online or in the classroom. Imagine having the freedom to teach synchronously from your home office one day and take a small group of students to a local event the same week. Imagine one of your students living in another state attending a similar event in their home town and all your students engaging in a lively Zoom discussion while simultaneously posting their photos and reflections to the Canvas discussion board.
What personal and professional strengths, cool tools and resources could you leverage to reimagine your teaching? How will you design your course to be as flexible as possible?
Flex-Hybrid courses are based on “flipped learning” strategies. “Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter” (The Flipped Learning Network, 2014) retrieved 6/10/20.
To create a great Flex-Hybrid course, flip your classroom. There are best practices that make flipped classrooms successful:
- Create a strong sense of community
- Activate students’ prior knowledge
- Introduce new knowledge through readings or experiences that must be completed before a class meeting
- Set up Student- Faculty and Student-Student class time (synchronous or asynchronous) for discussions and projects
- Role of the students: individually or in small groups engage in the processing (thinking, doing)
- Role of the professor: instruct, lecture, facilitate, clarify, redirect and assess.
- Leverage a variety of teaching strategies and technology tools.
How to flip your classroom:
- Here is a helpful worksheet with guiding questions used by Harvard
- Here is a Champlain College presentation provided by Melanie Brown, along with two articles here and here. (PDFs coming soon.)
Harvard provides ABLconnect, a website filled with student-centered, active-learning activities. The website is searchable by learning goal, subject, time and activity type.
What would it look like to activate and build on prior knowledge in one of your courses? Which teaching strategies could you flip into the online environment so that students can experience your course regardless of the reality of the current situation?
Below is a list of Flex-Hybrid Instructional Strategies adapted from GCC HyFlex Course Development Guide: (Appendix A)
|Delivery or Learning Activity||Face-to-Face/Synchronous||Online/Asynchronous|
|Activating Prior Knowledge|
|Survey Students for Knowledge or Experience||Google Forms survey, white board, Post-its or polling||>Google forms or Canvas survey|
|Teaching New Content|
|Lecture||15-20 min. blocks of instruction, demonstration, asking and receiving questions, and commentary of shared experience||3-4 x 6-min blocks of video, combined with discussion forums and written or recorded commentary for an individual learning experience.|
|Processing and making meaning|
Bok Center provides an excellent way to help students develop their debate skills here
Interesting variations on the classic debate here
|Pose a provocative question. Divide students into 2 groups Students joining by video conference can go into breakout rooms with each other or each could participate remotely. Assign roles (pro, con, devil’s advocate, dreamer, researcher/fact checker and scribe) Allow students time to share and organize their ideas. Assign a concept map, template or essay outlining their final argument, anticipated opposing arguments and counter arguments. Then groups engage in a debate over the issue.||Post a provocative question in Canvas. Ask students to choose a side and complete a concept map, template or write an essay outlining their final argument, anticipated opposing arguments and counter arguments. For the first deadline ask students to post their argument in the online discussion. For the second deadline have them choose 1-2 other posts and reply with evidence or reason-based argument|
|Group Work *
(for formative work and guided practice do not assign groups. For projects and summative assessment encourage students to choose synchronous or asynchronous in advance and assign groups.
|Formative: divide students into groups and/or breakout rooms to work on an activity and/or discuss a particular topic. Students may be physically present or join by videoconference. Interaction is between the students and supervised by the instructor. Groups may also share their ideas with other groups.
Summative: Assign students to groups to work on projects/assignments. Interaction is between students and supervised by the instructor
|Formative: provide a deadline for students to contribute to a working shared document, slides, spreadsheet or online discussion. Have students comment and discuss topics or complete a shared activity by a second deadline.
Summative: Assign students to groups to work on projects using working shared document, slides, spreadsheets or online discussion. Encourage groups to set internal deadlines.
An activity to encourage deep exploration.Students master one concept deeply and teach the concept to others.
|Present 4-5 topics of the day. Divide students into groups of the same number so that 1 person from each group will explore one of the topics of the day. Give the students time to explore and research their assigned topic. Then have students exploring the same topic share with each other what they have learned. Once they’ve mastered the concept, students return to their original group and everyone shares newfound expertise.||Students are given the topics of the week. They review course material and create new material summarizing those topics: the material could be short blog posts, slide presentations, screencasts, video, or images with captions. Students post their work or links to their work.|
|Assessing Student Understanding/ Collecting Feedback Students
CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques): Here is an excellent book with many brief activities to ensure students are tracking and learning what you intend for them to learn)
|1-minute/1 paragraph/1-page paper or review of notes/guides||At the end of the class ask students to write a 1-minute/ 1-paragraph/1-page summary of key concepts or what they learned. They can use a hard copy, post it to Canvas, or respond to a polling system. Or students could complete a form designed to be a review/reading/note-taking guide||After a module or learning experience, students write and post a 1-paragraph/1-page summary of key concepts or what they learned. Or students could complete a form designed to be a review/reading/note-taking guide|
|Think/Pair/Share||After an experience or new concept is taught, students pair up with another student, discuss the material that was just learned and develop questions for a short summary, in documents, to share with the class.||After and experience or after reading and viewing course materials, students share summaries and discuss them in a Discussion Forum.|
|Mastery/Recall||Quiz or Demonstration|
|Student Presentations (without feedback)||Individual students complete a class assignment and present that assignment to the class.||Individual students create slide presentations, screencasts or video presentations and upload them to Canvas.|
|Student Evaluations||Google forms and IDEA via Canvas|
|Assessing and Providing Feedback|
|Student Presentations (with feedback)||Individual students complete a class assignment and present the assignment to the class. During or after the presentation, students are required to answer questions posed by classmates.||Individual students upload their recorded presentations to a dropbox or shared file. Instructors post the screencasts or videos to a discussion forum for students to view, ask questions, and respond.|
At the beginning of the semester take time as a community to design a peer review rubric. Use comments for formative assessment and use the rubric for summative assessment
|Students share work with other students who review the work and provide comments via face-to-face discussion or in writing.||Post the rubric with the assignment. Students share work with other students via shared document, slide or discussion board. Students review the work and provide comments and/or a final rating based on the rubric.|
|Traditional Exam||Traditional scantron, blue book, or hard copy exams may be given. Or students may take an online exam or type a paper. Faculty may choose to proctor the exam or set specific time limits.||Online exams or typed papers uploaded to canvas|