Hello everyone!  Let’s talk teaching –

As a young instructor, I started teaching on chalkboards and clear plastic acetates.

Since then, I have:

-Seen new computer graphics programs that can make your paper handouts more interesting

-Developed my own website to give students access to these handouts in digital form at any time

-Ditched my website when Learning Management Systems started

-Became overjoyed with the advent of Powerpoint

-Became disillusioned with Powerpoint

-Enjoyed making and posting videos for my students

-And now we have Zoom.  Phew!

As instructors we need to be nimble and adventurous, creative and adaptive, thick skinned when things don’t work out, but mindful enough to pat ourselves on the back when we see the gleam of inspiration and insight in our student’s eyes.

With each new technology, there will always be bumps and frustrations, and with Zoom we have all experienced some. Having some students face-to-face and others on Zoom, I am finding that what works well for Zoom people, does not work for the classroom folk and vice versa.

The Dual Modality Environment

Certainly one of our goals as instructors is to encourage our students to engage with the material in an active, thoughtful, manner.  A second goal, though, is to encourage students to socially connect with each other, and with the instructor, in order to engender a feeling of personal support and belonging.  How can we do this in a dual modality classroom?

Tip #1: Use more cameras.

One problem I found out immediately was that I move around a lot when I am in lecture mode.  I step away from the podium, I often point at the overhead screen, and I get excited.  All of this helps in-class folk pay attention and feel excited, but unfortunately I walked off the classroom camera view so that my Zoom folks can’t see any of it, or feel like they are part of the class.

My solution was to bring my laptop and login to Zoom as a student.  The laptop camera now serves as the close-up view, with the classroom camera capturing the wide angle.  I soon discovered that having the laptop provides two other benefits as well.

First, organizationally, I can put all of the zoom attributes on the laptop screen, like the images of the students and the Chat box, and keep my presentation material on the desktop.

Second, with the laptop having all of my zoom students, I now turn to that computer to ask if any zoom students have any questions.  This creates a personal connection because virtually speaking they see my full face as if I were literally asking each one a question.  I am also looking right into their (virtual) faces, and so I feel a connection with them as well.

Additionally, a second (or third) camera could easily be used to give an up-close perspective in you were trying to demonstrate something in class.  For instance, at one of the classroom use demonstrations, Kara Witzke talked about using her iPad, set on a tripod, to project an up-close perspective of a manipulation/examination that might be used during physical therapy.  I have thought about setting up my phone camera to view a small part of the white board for any quick illustrations that may come up spontaneously in lecture.

Tip #2: Have the in-class students log in to the zoom classroom as well.    

Two simple mechanisms to encourage the students to actively consider the course material, develop skills, and form connections with fellow students is through small group discussions and short/quick quizzes or polls.  For zoom students, this is really easy.  Zoom has breakout rooms and polling functions that make these interactions easy.  But, how does that help the in-class students?  For instance, if I send out a poll via Zoom, how do in-class students answer the poll?  Small group discussions also are difficult for in-class students given the 6 foot distance requirement.

A solution for both is to have in-class students login to zoom even while they are sitting in the classroom.  They can do this by bringing a computer to class (we can offer computers to students with use of a COW as well), but they can also login easily with a smartphone.  To do so, have your in-class students download the Zoom app as well as the Canvas app, and they can login to zoom through Canvas.  Now, face-to-face students can almost seamlessly interact and integrate with Zoom students.  In-class students may need to use headphones for breakout room discussions.

Are there resources for Dual Modality Classrooms?

The short answer is “not really”.  There are plenty of sites that give tips on in-class teaching, and plenty that give tips when using Zoom as the teaching tool, but Dual Modality as the standard has left us with limited resources. For this, we sometimes have to pioneer what works best individually, but having open discussions within our own campus community can help reduce the amount of trials and error involved.

For tips on teaching, a great place to start is our own Center for Teaching and Learning.  Check out this site for quick Active learning suggestions with in-class students, and this one for teaching with Zoom.  In the end, let us all work together to figure out how to put all of these tips together in a Dual Mode classroom.

Peter Sparks

Senior Instructor and Psychology Program Lead

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