Once hybridized teaching is an acceptable standard in the department or college, administrators must focus on the necessary tools to accomplish the task. Video recording and transmission is clearly needed, and the ability to place this video feed online like a teleconferencing session is also crucial. Labs containing computers, as well as spaces and networks for laptops, are also needed, since not all students have access to an Internet connection that supports video streaming. Note that streaming speed is not the only factor. Resolution on the screen is important in classes where a white board is used by the teacher. In the best of scenarios, this board would eventually be replaced by a close-up shot of just the white board, or even better, a computer-generated demonstration screen which would be more visible than a white board on something like an iPhone with Retina Display.
Producing remote video requires a fair amount of planning, as well as attention to legalities. In some circumstances, recorded videos might be subject to payments of royalties if screened at another time or location, for instance. Schools should realize that some young professors may one day become renowned experts in their fields. The rights to a teaching video should not be ignored. Videotaped classes should be managed under a well-written contract to prevent future implications.
Implementing a successful online/hybrid program relies heavily on internal expression, as well as motivating personnel. Once those hurdles are mastered, the technical implementation is a much easier process, more impacted by funding issues than the actual technical details. After all, online teaching is an established, almost mature technology. Creating the hybrid element will not be too difficult, given that faculty have now “bought in” to the program.
Among the questions that must first be asked:
Should the classes be presented real-time, and not recorded?
- Requires a student to always be present at the time of the lecture, with no way for make-up.
- Requires less long-term vision by teacher, but is more convenient during the program inception process.
Should the class be recorded for download each time the course is presented, but not reused year-to-year?
- Requires teacher re-creating a video each year of the same class.
- Allows for nuanced interpretation and growth in course presentation, which is especially important with newer teachers.
- Requires more overall overhead with the yearly re-recording of a course.
Should the class be recorded, with the expectation of reusing it for future years?
- Lowers the overhead of teaching the class each year.
- Minimizes the growth in the teacher and the course, as well as more chances of omitting the influences of the latest research or current news.
- The professor may prefer not to retain earlier attempts at online presentation of a course as their personal and professional growth change their course in teaching.
Should the class be recorded, and then reworked year-to-year by its professor to provide a more complete learning process?
- Lowers the overhead of teaching the class each year, while allowing growth in the course and the teacher.
- Requires video library and revision management that the teacher can access.
Certainly the last case, where a course is reworked over time, presents the best potential outcome for both student and teacher. In a well-respected university, even the most basic general education material should reflect the advancing scholarship that the academic environment offers.
In presenting hybridized education, an important point arises. To present material in the best possible way, professors need the feedback of students, whether through questions asked during the lecture, or at the course. Excellent courses are never static; they are redesigned constantly by feedback. In planning a hybridized education program, administrators must never forget the need for constant feedback. Robotic programs will likely not have the intended benefits, neither for students nor teachers.
© 2012 Laurie Mena