For the foreseeable future, there may be limits on how many people are allowed to be in the same space at a time. At the same time, as humans, we naturally miss the connections and sense of community being together- such as at a conference- provides. While there is something to the convenience of being able to join a didactic session from the comfort of your own home, I suspect most faculty and learners would prefer to be together in person.
In the case of larger groups, there may not be a way to safely have everyone in the same physical space. But is there a way we can at least get some of us together and have everyone else join virtually? This is the idea behind the hybrid model. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and challenges of this format.
For ideas about engaging the socially distanced learner, check out the previous post in this series.
For tips on getting the most out of your video conferencing platform, check out the first post.
- More fulfilling experience for the educator to present to a live audience
- Increased audience engagement with an in-person presenter
- Human connection and sense of community from being in same physical space as colleagues
- The opportunity to still participate for those with barriers to attendance
- Virtual attendees may not have equal experience to in-person learners
- Sound and visual quality may be suboptimal for those participating virtually
- May require a more advanced technical approach to be done effectively
The first two challenges are really a function of the third. Tech savvy is not every medical educator’s strong point. The first step for many of us is admitting this and accepting the assistance of available technical support personnel. Here are some additional considerations:
The camera should be able to adequately capture the presenter and their movements, gestures, and expressions while also providing adequate audio to the virtual audience.
If slides are being presented in-person, the same computer that is connected to the projector could simultaneously be screen sharing the slides via a video conferencing platform (ie- Zoom) to give a higher quality image of the slides to the virtual learner.
Ideally, there would be a second screen in the classroom displaying the video conferencing platform that would allow the in-person participants to see the virtual learners in order to facilitate peer interaction.
In the spirit of fairness, which learners get to be physically present and who join virtually should be rotated in the case of multiple sessions on different dates.
Weather permitting, outdoor venues may increase the number of participants who can safely participate in person but can have deleterious effects on sound quality and an internet connection, and these should be evaluated prior to the session.
The hybrid model may be the best possible solution to the very modern problem of social distancing. When done with adequate forethought and setup, it can provide the engagement and sense of community we sorely miss while still creating an opportunity to participate from afar.