Making the Most of your In-Person Components

We understand how anxious and excited everyone is to get back to the enriching in-person learning environments that we are used to experiencing at McMaster. However we also recognize that this anticipation needs to be tempered with realities that we need to work with safety as our priority. As many of you are planning on having at least some of your teaching happen in person, this section outlines what you need to consider moving ahead.

Rationale and Planning for In-person Activities

  • We strongly recommend planning for in-person activities that foster student engagement (e.g. discussions, hands-on applications, demonstrations, etc.) and not for delivering lecture content.
  • To make the best use of in-person time for meaningful student learning, lectures may best be planned as virtual or online asynchronous delivery.
  • Back-up options such as web conferencing sessions, should be considered for any planned in-person activities if increased public health restrictions are imposed.

Cohorts

  • Depending on public health restrictions, instructors may need to organize and administer cohorts of students to be able to attend in-person during any given in-class period. For instance, instructors could choose among random assignment of in-class attendance, student sign-up for in-class attendance, or rotating schedules of in-class attendance.
  • Avenue to Learn’s Groups Tool can help instructors in assigning students to cohorts; these cohorts may also be aligned with Mosaic sectioning.  More information and resources on how to cohort students into groups is available in the Avenue to Learn Knowledge Base.

Bimodal Options

  • Instructors may choose to synchronously broadcast or record in-person instruction for students unable to attend in-person.
  • Specific technology requirements for synchronous broadcast should be considered. For instance:
    • Is the classroom space equipped with appropriate technology to support lecture capture or web conferencing? The Registrar-controlled classroom technology directory list is available here once you know your room assignment.
    • Will non-lecture components of the lesson (e.g. discussions, activities) be captured for those that cannot attend in person?
    • How will any recordings be captioned and made available to students?
    • What technologies will be used to enable virtual students’ participation?

The MacPherson Institute has educational developers who are highly skilled at blended and online learning available to consult with instructors on planning for these hybrid considerations to ensure all students are able to fully participate whether in-person or online.

Other Considerations

  • In designing in-person learning experiences, instructors will need to consider that all students participating virtually or online will need the same quality of learning experience. This may mean considerations for design of in-class activities, subsequent online or virtual instruction and/or utilizing teaching assistants to support virtual and online activities. More information on this can be found in the remainder of this section.
  • Capacity for additional administrative responsibilities should be carefully considered (e.g. scheduling and managing attendance of cohorts of students)

We recognize the challenge in determining the best format for instruction given the many uncertainties. We hope this and other resources MacPherson has planned or in place will help you identify solutions for some of the challenges of in-person instruction within changing public health restrictions. We share the goal of welcoming students back to in-person classes and are here to help instructors make sound pedagogical choices in order to do so safely.

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Blended Teaching: A Guide for Applying Flexible Practices during COVID-19 by Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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