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Manners and etiquette for hybrid teaching

Hybrid is what we call meetings, seminars or lectures that have both physical and digital participants. It might be the case that a majority of students attend a lecture on site and a few students attend from home – or vice versa. Hybrid teaching has become a relatively common format at University but it comes with several challenges. Therefore, it’s important to think through a meeting in advance – regardless of if you’re the one listening in Zoom or if you're in the physical classroom.

When it comes to hybrid meetings, it’s important that those participating from outside the classroom feel as included as those inside it – or else the entire point of the format is lost. Participating via Zoom should not be a less active alternative for those sitting on a train, lying in bed with a fever or joining the meeting ill-prepared. The teacher is not the only person responsible for creating the best possible hybrid meeting – everyone must contribute in order to make the best of the situation.

In the last couple of years, we have seen countless jokes about the odd situations that can arise in Zoom when someone forgets to turn off their microphone or when something unexpected takes place behind a person who is in video. It’s not unusual for things to happen in digital meetings that would have been unthinkable inside a lecture hall or classroom. One reason for this is that we have yet to establish norms for how to behave in a digital meeting. Is it OK to interrupt? Is it OK to participate in the meeting wearing a bathrobe? Can you eat breakfast cereal during the meeting? Simply put, we need to agree on some sensible manners and etiquette.

Here are a few tips on general rules, depending on what role you have in the meeting.

If you are digitally participating in a hybrid meeting

  • Check in advance that audio and the camera are working normally on your computer. You may need to use a headset in order to be heard properly. 
  • Familiarise yourself with the program you will be using, so that you know the functions that are available and how to use them. Read our pages about digital tools to learn more and to try them out. 

Information on digital tools

  • Before joining the meeting, make sure that the display and sound on your computer are working as they should. You might have to use headphones with a microphone for people to hear you clearly.
  • Familiarise yourself with the programs you will be using so that you know what functions exist and how you can use them. Read our pages about digital tools to learn more and to try them out.
  • Arrive on time, preferably a few minutes before the meeting starts.
  • Turn on your camera so that everyone can see who they’re talking to or listening with.
  • Sit or stand next to a table, and make sure you have what you need to take notes.
  • Make sure it’s fairly quiet and calm around you and turn off and put away your phone.
  • Prepare yourself so that you’re able to ask questions and actively participate in the studies. For example, read the material you’ve been given beforehand or consider what might come next and prepare yourself based on this.
  • If you need to have multiple things on your screen simultaneously – consider if it’s possible to use multiple screens or if you can print out the material, so that you’re always able to keep track of what’s happening in the digital classroom.
  • Communicate with the person in charge of the meeting so that they know how the meeting is experienced digitally.

Read about why you should turn on your camera in Zoom

Read about taking notes by hand and on a computer

If you are participating in a meeting from the physical room

  • Find out who is participating online in the meeting. If you cannot see them on screen, raise this issue with the person leading the meeting. 
  • Pay a little extra attention to those participating online and follow up their comments, so that they feel they are taking part on equal terms.
  • Speak clearly and find out where the microphone is. 
  • If possible, also include the online participants in any chats during breaks or after the meeting. 

If you are in charge of a hybrid meeting 

As the responsible person of a hybrid meeting, it’s important to make sure that everyone has the same ability to follow what’s happening. In addition to thinking through and trying out technical solutions with cameras and microphones, this might mean sending out material in advance. This allows for the people attending the meeting digitally to decide if they want to print out the material or have it on a separate screen in order to see you in Zoom instead.

If everyone is to contribute to a discussion by writing, one tip is to use Padlet instead of letting the digital participants write in the chat and the on-site students writing on a whiteboard. Using a Padlet bulletin board allows everyone to see each other’s text on equal terms. Otherwise, the meeting runs the risk of being divided into two different discussions happening simultaneously or a sudden audio feedback occurring because someone in the physical room signs in to look at the chat.

Information about Padlet

Make sure that everyone is able to participate even in the conversations that take place during the breaks and before the meeting starts. Initiating a conversation through a computer screen can be more difficult and you don't want to accidentally exclude someone from casual conversations. Therefore, it might require a little extra effort from your side to include those who are participating digitally. If the meeting has many participants, you could also create break-out-rooms for conversations in smaller groups.