During the autumn 2020 semester, UniDistance Suisse, experimented a new synchronous hybrid class format in five modules as an experiment to better understand its value and the challenges it presents for a distance learning university with a diverse student body. At the end of the semester, we collected data from both the students and teaching teams, offering a rich understanding from the different points of view. Students were asked to respond to an online survey about the reasons for their choice of mode of participation (in person, online or not at all) and their learning experience. We also carried out semi-structured interviews with the teaching teams, focusing on two main topics: the technological aspects of synchronous hybrid teaching, and the pedagogical experience. Overall, both in-presence and online students felt they were engaged and treated in the same way, although they did not experience all aspects of the module in the same way (variety of activities, sense of belonging). They were all generally satisfied with their learning experience, which could be explained through engagement and cognitive consistency theories. From the teachers’ perspective, the technological setup was a challenge and required a sharing of tasks between the professor and assistant. Simple technological solutions and strong support are essential. Although it was the preferred teaching solution for all interviewees given the circumstances, synchronous hybrid teaching creates a complex interactional space. Teachers experience a high cognitive load as well as the feeling of a loss of control compared to the traditional classroom.
Link to the slides, here.