Hybrid classrooms in HE: Re-conceptualising the concept of attendance.
Sam Pywell – Digital Development Coach, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, and Principal Lecturer: Social Prescribing Unit Coordinator at the University of Central Lancashire
Andrew Sprake – Digital Development Coach, and Lecturer in Sport and Physical Education at the University of Central Lancashire
Potential exists to learn, attend and engage through ‘hybrid’ attendance. This is where a session may be taught face-to-face on campus with part of the audience (students, staff and guest speakers), and with others ‘dialing in’. Reasons for some of the audience dialing in could include: ‘reasonable adjustments’ (Pywell, 2021), convenience associated with less time out of practice (e.g. clinicians), and international guest speakers – where travel accommodation and flights are beyond the allocated budget. Students may greatly benefit from the content being delivered, yet an unanswered question remains: How are we all recording attendance in hybrid classrooms?
Attendance in hybrid classrooms could be seen as going through re-conceptualisation (Pywell and Sprake, 2021). Where hybrid is possible, Microsoft Teams has functionality to automatically record attendance – either through Insights or connecting Teams to existing attendance systems, such as Student Engagement & Attendance Monitoring (SEAM).
So, we know it is possible to capture attendance, but how do we define it and what are we basing our decisions on? It can be difficult to prove engagement throughout any session (e.g. just because a student doesn’t speak in a session, does not mean they are not engaging with the materials or taking in information). Yet interpretations remain, especially on professional courses, around what is ‘professional’ attendance.
Without sector guidelines on defining attendance (and engagement) within hybrid classrooms, and attendance in hybrid classrooms for professional courses, we are at the point of re-conceptualisation of attendance. The extensive combinations of circumstances where an individual may need to dial in to a class, may mean there are local reasons which do not occur in other regions (e.g. if there are any future government restrictions). Sector, profession specific and local guidelines are needed which include all of this and acknowledge the definition of attendance within hybrid classrooms is in a state of flux.
Pywell, S. & Sprake, A. (2021). Leveraging the potential of extended reality for learning, teaching and increased student choice in higher education. UCLan T&L Conference.
Pywell, S. (2021). The reasonable adjustment/request of dialing in to education: Being an anti-ableist educator in face-to-face classrooms. UCLan Centre for Collaborative Learning Blog.