Hyb-IT-up student co-design workshop

Even though many people are familiar with the concept of hybrid learning and have participated in hybrid learning experiences, the challenge of designing effective hybrid learning environments is very much prominent. That is why the Hyb-IT-up Project organized a hybrid workshop on 8th of March, to unite students from the partner universities (Finland, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal) for co-designing activities.

Co-design workshop meant to cultivate participants’ hybrid learning competencies and to co-create proposals of the micro-course dedicated to that topic from the student guidebook. The workshop was conducted in a hybrid format, with an in-person session being held at the Department of Educational Technology (EduTech) at Saarland University in Germany. Over 40 people, including the organizers, from the partner universities participated in the workshop.

Prof. Armin Weinberger opened the workshop by asking online participants from which country they were coming, communicating with them using their language. This ‘call and response’ activity united the workshop participants by inviting the online participants to express themselves and increasing their social presence.

In the beginning, the participants were asked why they thought the co-design format of the session was prioritized. Participants noted that co-designing can help combine expertise and perspectives which makes the final product more interesting and complex. Paulo Jose Santos, the host of the workshop elaborated on this answer more, noting that students are stakeholders of the learning process, and co-designing with teachers’ and students’ perspectives in mind can help design an amazing learning product. In this process, we should always keep two focuses in mind: hybrid learning and hybrid teaching. Equipping teachers with the right tools for the hybrid environment was one of the main objectives of the workshop.

The discussion about the relevance of hybrid learning and its essence was next on the agenda. Participants were giving their opinions on the concept of hybrid courses, which was similar to the one that was used by the workshop hosts: a hybrid course is a learning environment where there is a combination of face-to-face and online instruction (Singh et al., 2021). Then participants learnt more about various settings of hybrid teaching consisting different combinations of online and physical spaces. For example, shared portal configuration, linked classroom, personal portal, small group were introduced (see Bell et al., 2014).
(Note: the participants experienced some modes later during the co-design activity.)

Also, it was revealed that hybrid learning allows to enrich pedagogical scenarios by going outside the classroom, inviting outside experts, involving students from abroad or experiencing physical difficulties (e.g., Bell et al., 2014).

This flexibility, of course, creates additional challenges for teachers, including teacher overload and extra time spent on preparation. Diverse types of competences – like communicative and self-regulating ones also show themselves as challenges and require teachers to be more flexible and knowledgeable.

Next, participants were offered the chance to evaluate their own competences – with the help of the questionnaire prepared by the organizers of the workshop. In this form the participants could find questions not only about their digital skills, but also communication, self-regulation and emotional self-regulation competencies which constitute the framework that allows learning designers and educators to construct and prepare their hybrid learning environments and experiences. The results demonstrated that participants assessed themselves as mostly successful in application of those competences, however, many admitted challenges in the emotional regulation aspect.

So, how can we as students and educators develop said competences (digital, communication, self-regulation, and emotional self-regulation)? It is necessary to understand that it is a constant journey, not an endpoint – the development never stops (Guthrie, 2009). It is the journey of reflecting, making mental models visible, being autonomous, and being involved in problem-solving for real-life situations (Barth et al., 2007). It was made possible by the co-designing part of the workshop. Participants created their own proposal of the micro-course focusing on one aspect of the development of hybrid learning competencies among students. During the co-designing session, participants were invited to use the CoDe-Graph, which is a graphical language to design MOOC structure.

For the remainder of the workshop, participants were distributed to groups – strictly online and hybrid, and each group was assigned a facilitator. The group work was scripted and different roles were given to the participants such as a note-taker, an inquiry-maker, a material searcher, an orchestrator.

Based on the newly acquired knowledge and their rich expertise in the assigned topics, the workshop participants brainstormed ideas for designing learning activities in a micro-course about one of the given four themes. After co-design group work, the participants presented their ideas and graphs to their colleagues.

As one of the participants, I can admit I have learnt a lot of valuable information and the co-designing session helped me immediately work further on my competencies, and potentially see the opportunities of how I can help my students and colleagues to develop them. I would highly recommend all students and educators participate in the similar workshops, as it might both enrich their professional toolset and introduce them to amazing people who are also interested in developing their hybrid learning competences.

A picture of the onsite and online participants

Writer of the blog: Anna Luzai (Learning, Education and Technology Master’s degree programme)
Editors: Sara Ahola, Azusa Nakata (Learning and Educational Technology Research Lab)

More information about EduTech Master’s programme at Saarland University: https://edutech.uni-saarland.de/

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Bell, J., Sawaya, S., & Cain, W. (2014). Synchromodal classes: Designing for shared learning experiences between face-to-face and online students. International Journal of Designs for learning, 5(1).

Guthrie, H. (2009). Competence and Competency-based Training: What the Literature Says. National Centre for Vocational Education Research Ltd. PO Box 8288, Stational Arcade, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

Li, Q., Li, Z., & Han, J. (2021). A hybrid learning pedagogy for surmounting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the performing arts education. Education and Information Technologies, 26(6), 7635–7655.

Priess-Buchheit, J. (2020). Synchronous hybrid learning in times of social distancing: A report and case study on benefits, trainer’s challenges, and guidelines. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 8(10), 359–361.

Singh, J., Steele, K., & Singh, L. (2021). Combining the best of online and face-to-face learning: Hybrid and blended learning approach for COVID-19, post vaccine, & post-pandemic world. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 50(2), 140–171.