Dear Fellow PLATO Lifelong Learning Enthusiasts,
Have you tried a hybrid PLATO course? Many of us remember the bumps along the way as we adjusted to online courses during the shutdown. Now PLATO is figuring out how to make hybrid classes work well for both online and in-person attendees.
As the new chair of the Curriculum Committee, I thought maybe this summer would be a good time to experience a hybrid class from both the online and in-person perspective. I signed up for Craig Wille’s hybrid summer course book discussion on Aging as a Spiritual Practice. I’ve attended many of Craig’s classes in the past and he was kind enough to agree to let me attend some sessions online and some in person so that I could get a feel for the overall experience from everyone’s perspective.
Admittedly there have been some bumps with the hybrid format. However, with a class full of people dedicated to lifelong learning and practicing the flexibility that is a cornerstone of Aging as a Spiritual Practice we have been able to make several adjustments to better the experience.
So far, these adjustments have included:
- · Asked the in-person attendees to sit closer together and then pointed the camera at them so the online folks could see the in-person folks
- · The instructor and online students turned on captions so that they could read what was being said if they weren’t able to hear it perfectly
- · Instructor summarizes what the in-person folks are saying as it is still hard for the online folks to hear them
- · Using breakout rooms so that discussions can be more intimate, and everyone has a chance to contribute.
Personally, I enjoyed attending both online and in-person. In-person was nice because I had a more intimate connection with the other attendees. I didn’t find the online group distracting but some of the other in-person attendees did so. Online was familiar, comfortable, and worked well for discussion in the breakout room format.
What does the future hold for hybrid classes? Because of the many benefits of the hybrid format: (socialization and intimacy of in-person attendance, flexibility of online attendance), PLATO will continue to explore this technology. Also, as our instructors continue to learn and adjust, we’ll start to know what type of classes lend themselves to the hybrid format and what type do not.
I encourage you to try a hybrid class this fall – and if possible – attend both online and in-person. You can send any feedback to the anyone on the curriculum committee or to email@example.com.