In this session, we share our experiences of piloting hybrid delivery of academic writing workshops. Following this, we invite participants to share experiences, perceptions and practices.
In line with the university’s strategy ‘to establish a digital learning infrastructure that connects students with each other ….. and with the wider world’ (University College London, 2020a), in 2019 we expanded online synchronous academic writing support to allow distance students to join face-to-face workshops. Online participants joined face-to-face attendees via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Interaction between the two groups was enabled through audio / video functions; online participants could also communicate via Blackboard Collaborate chat, whiteboard, polls and breakout groups. The trial ended following the Covid 19 outbreak and move to online only teaching.
We set out to increase access for students with little or no access to the physical campus, but what emerged was a complex picture in terms of participation and interaction. Many online attendees were local students, e.g. in full-time employment, with caring responsibilities and/or commuting to classes. Anonymous feedback included a range of suggestions and observations. For example, face-to-face participants requested access to the Blackboard Collaborate tools during classes. Some online attendees expressed a preference not to speak, one, for example, noting a need to stay quiet whilst holding her baby. This suggests that we need to think carefully before setting ‘requirements’ in terms of participation.
Preparation now focuses on a ‘Connected Learning’ approach to online, socially distanced or blended teaching and learning for the coming academic year, ensuring that ‘students are active participants in their learning rather than passive recipients of information’ (University College London, 2020b, no page). Developing appropriate inclusive hybrid pedagogies therefore seems pertinent.
Fenwick and Edwards (2010, p. 5) note that ‘pedagogical encounters change radically when its things change’. To examine the long-term potential of hybrid delivery, we must acknowledge new complexities, consider pedagogical implications and examine how students experience the physical and digital environments. Critical pedagogy (Freire, 1992) helped us think about how to avoid the voices of online participants being marginalised in writing workshops. Stommel (2014, no page) defines critical digital pedagogy as ‘center(ing) its practice on community and collaboration’ and, in terms of learning and teaching academic writing online, Deane and Gauasch (2015) highlight a need to research its collaborative and dialogic potential. As academic writing tutors, we avoid prescriptive writing ‘solutions’; writing development appears to thrive through shared investigation and is viewed by Warnock (2015) as the opposite to a ‘banking concept of education’ (Freire, 1996, p. 52). To our knowledge, little has been done to examine how ‘entanglements with the digital’ (Gourlay and Oliver, 2018, p. 66) might play out in the context of hybrid delivery of academic writing classes.
We acknowledge the limitations of synchronous provision and recognise that asynchronous initiatives may offer more inclusive ways to support academic writing development. However, recent student feedback has included requests for further synchronous opportunities, so the presenters will also consider ways to balance and integrate fully online, hybrid and asynchronous opportunities.
- Introductory poll: Experiences of / ideas about hybrid delivery’ (2 minutes);
- Presentation by authors: Developing ‘hybrid’ delivery of academic writing workshops: Opportunities, challenges and observations – implications for ‘Connected Learning’ and social distancing (13 minutes);
- Prompt questions for further discussion (10 minutes);
- Feedback and questions to the authors (5 minutes).
Deane, M. and Guasch, T. (2015). Learning and Teaching Writing Online, Strategies for Success. Leiden: Brill.
Fenwick, T. and Edwards, R. (2010). Actor Network Theory in Education. Abingdon: Routledge.
Freire, P. (1992). Pedagogy of the Oppressed (3rd ed.). London: Penguin Books.
Gourlay, L. and Oliver, M. (2018). Student Engagement in the Digital University, Sociomaterial Assemblages. Abingdon: Routledge.
Stommel, J. (2014). ‘Critical Digital Pedagogy: a Definition ‘, Hybrid Pedagogy. [online] Available at: https://hybridpedagogy.org/critical-digital-pedagogy-definition/ (Accessed on 28 April 2020).
University College London (2020a). ‘Enriching digital learning: objective seven of the Education Strategy’, UCL Education Strategy 2016-21 [online] Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/education-strategy/enriching-digital-learning-objective-seven-education-strategy (Accessed on 14 June 2020).
University College London (2020b). ‘Preparing for Connected Learning in 2020-21′, Education Planning 2020-21 [online] Available (through login only) at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/education-planning-2020-21/preparing-connected-learning-2020-21 (Accessed on 14 June 2020).
Warnock, S. (2015). ‘Interrogating Online Writing Instruction’. In M. Deane and T. Guasch, Learning and Teaching Writing Online, Strategies for Success. Leiden: Brill, pp. 176-185.