Do Adjunct Instructors Need a Hybrid Approach?
Many adjunct instructors that are teaching classes in a traditional classroom environment are finding that there is an option available to utilize an online classroom platform. If this option is available for your class, have you utilized it or considered the benefit of creating a hybrid form of classroom learning? What do you believe about your students’ ability to incorporate online classroom activities? It is understandable that this facilitation approach is going to require an additional investment of time on your part to create a structured learning environment from an empty course shell. There may be a learning curve involved for you, as well as your students, to become familiar with and navigate through this online environment. Despite these initial challenges it is very likely that a hybrid classroom approach can enhance the overall process of learning because of its potential to increase student engagement in the class.
If you are new to the online classroom platform the first step would be to find tutorials that will help you learn how to create the basic functions. For example, some institutions utilize the Blackboard and Moodle platforms. There are numerous informative videos available on YouTube that can help walk you through the necessary steps to get started. At a very minimum, it would be beneficial to establish a questions thread, a resources forum, a news forum, and a discussion forum. This will provide students with another way to contact you and it will allow you to have a central repository for handouts, website links, updates, videos, and additional materials that you would like to share. A discussion forum can help students feel connected to the class, to each other, and promote collaboration among them.
Utilizing an online classroom platform extends accessibility of the class and the instructor, turning a weekly class session into a continuous learning process. In a traditional classroom environment students may wait to study or complete their assignments until it is close to the next class session. By asking students to participate in the online portion of the class they are encouraged to work with the course concepts throughout the week and continue processing the information they have acquired. Initially you may need to offer an incentive such as extra credit or assigned points as a means of motivating students to participate; however, in the long run students are likely to be involved because they are often used to engaging in online social networking communities. You can also encourage students to check the online classroom on a regular basis by posting frequent updates or additional resources. When you are ready to introduce the online portion of your class take time to present a demonstration during one of your weekly lectures so that you can walk students through the various components and explain the purpose of each one.
The ultimate purpose of establishing a hybrid form of classroom learning is not to create additional work for you or busywork for the students. In order for this type of facilitation strategy to be effective it needs to be viewed as another way to connect students with the course and the information that they are receiving, for the purpose of enhancing the process of learning and knowledge creation. This also helps you reach out and connect with learning styles that may not be fully addressed with the traditional lecture. As you increase the number of interactions that students have with the class, you are also increasing their engagement and participation while providing additional support for their continued academic development.