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Sensible etiquette for hybrid teaching

Hybrid is the term used for meetings, lessons or lectures that have participants both onsite and online. Perhaps a majority of the participants are onsite and a few are online via Zoom, or vice versa. Hybrid has become quite common but involves a lot of challenges. Therefore it is important to plan ahead of the meeting regardless if you are an attendee or hosting the meeting.

It is important in hybrid meetings that all those participating online are, and feel, as involved as those attending onsite – otherwise the whole point of the format is lost. Taking part via Zoom is not to be a less active alternative for those who are on a train, in bed with a fever or have not prepared very well. The responsibility for an optimum hybrid meeting does not lie solely with the lecturer, as all those involved must help out to create a situation that is as good as possible.

In recent years, there have been countless jokes stemming from how awkward it can be on Zoom when someone has forgotten to turn off their microphone or when something unexpected happens in the background on screen. Things often happen in online meetings that would be inconceivable when everyone is in a lecture hall. One reason for this is that we have not yet had time to establish common norms for behaving in an online meeting. Is it OK to interrupt? Is it OK to participate in a dressing gown or from a café? Can you eat breakfast cereal during the meeting? What we need, quite simply, is to agree on some sensible etiquette. 

Here are some tips on general rules, depending on the role you have in the meeting.

If you participate online 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

  • Arrive on time, preferably a few minutes before the meeting starts. 
  • Turn the camera on, so that everyone can see who they are talking to or listening with. 
  • Sit or stand at a table and ensure that it is possible to take notes.  
  • Ensure that it is reasonably quiet and calm around you and turn off and put away your mobile phone. 
  • Prepare in a way that makes it possible to ask questions and actively participate in the teaching. For example, read through the material you received in advance or think about what is going to happen and prepare on that basis.  
  • If you need to have several things on the screen at once – think about whether it is possible to use more than one screen or print out the material, so that you can simultaneously keep track of what is happening online. 
  • Communicate with the person leading the meeting, so that they know how the meeting is being perceived online. 

Read about why you should turn the camera on in Zoom

Read about taking notes in written form or on the computer

If you participate onsite at the meeting 

  • 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 leading a hybrid meeting 

If you are responsible for a hybrid meeting, it is important to ensure that everyone has the same possibilities to follow what is going on. In addition to thinking through and testing technical solutions regarding cameras and microphones, this may involve distributing material in advance. Those following the meeting online can then choose to print out the material or have it on another screen in order to see you on Zoom instead.  

If everyone is to contribute in writing to a discussion, it is advisable to use Padlet instead of having online participants writing in the chat function or those onsite writing on a whiteboard. On a Padlet bulletin board, everyone sees everyone else’s texts on equal terms. Otherwise, it can easily happen that two conversations carry on in parallel in the meeting or there is sudden detour as someone onsite logs in to check the chat function.

Information about Padlet

Ensure that everyone can also participate in chats during breaks or before the meeting starts. You don’t want a situation where someone is excluded from the informal conversation. As it is more difficult to initiate a conversation if you are participating via a computer, you can make an extra effort to include those who are taking part online. If the meeting has many participants, you can also create break-out rooms for conversations in smaller groups.