How can we use some of the new technologies to help meet the increasing need for faculty development and professional development that those technologies are also creating? How can we improve undergraduate teaching and learning?
Hybrid professional development, hybrid faculty development, and hybrid undergraduate courses can be part of the answer.
NOTE: The terms "hybrid" and "blended" are used almost interchangeably. I prefer "hybrid" because the other term implies more complete integration of the parts than is often possible - or desirable.
Hybrid Education: Synchronous and Asynchronous; Face-to-Face and Distance; Virtual and Tangible; Local and (Inter)National; Mixing Media; Using Web 2.0 Options AND older asynchronous options!
Goal: Provide something BETTER than was possible via any of the components ALONE.
We know we can't keep up separately. How can we do better together? How can we use some of the new technologies to help meet the increasing demand for faculty development and professional development that those technologies are also creating?
Hybrid-Hybrid Professional Development is part of the answer.
The accelerating pace of development and access to new technologies with educational potential keeps
1. increasing the need and expectation for professional development
2. increasing workload and decreasing discretionary time for faculty and other academic professionals
3. increasing availability of tools and resources that seem likely to help cope with this overload
This collaborative approach to professional and faculty development is based on ten years of work by the TLT Group which began with a focus on intra-institutional multi-role collaboration (TLT Roundtables) and has shifted more recently to focus on inter-institutional collaboration and greater reliance on WebCasts, Web 2.0 and other Internet-based resources. The TLT Group has learned to develop and offer hybrid professional development by working collaboratively with a variety of professionals from a variety of institutions, because, more than ever, no one can keep up with everything.
The heart of the current model is learning to match what can be done best in face-to-face settings run by local campus professionals with what can be added by providing access to experts and activities who are located elsewhere via online synchronous and asynchronous activities. In particular, we design and support online synchronous live Webcasts including multi-directional audio and a variety of visual displays and interaction options IN CONJUNCTION WITH local gatherings of small groups.
Some of the small groups are linked to the "outside" via a single computer in their meeting room; some participate co-located but with each participant individually logged in within a computer lab; some participate with individual computer connections from their own offices or other campus locations. The success of these ventures depends on effective communication and collaboration among the local leaders and the online presenters. Some of the local leaders can share skills and knowledge that is valuable not only on their own campus but elsewhere too.
Importance or relevance to other institutions: There are so many platforms, operating systems, and software applications available to educators that finding a way through the maze individually can often interfere with the basic need to communicate and work together. The TLT Group has worked over the last ten years to use new technologies and new pedagogies to support, not undermine, communication and collaboration in pursuit of the improvement of teaching and learning. This "hybrid" collaborative professional development has been largely facilitated by offering moderated synchronous, multidirectional, voice, text, and visual applications using web conference interfaces. The synchronous environment is then complimented by asynchronous resources such as blogs, RSS feeds, web pages, and wikis - and whatever other options have emerged recently from Web 2.0, etc.