Face to Face: a New Way of Blending Digital and Physical Classrooms

Georgetown University has recently experimented with turning one of its digital-only courses into a hybrid course. Usually, this process occurs in the other direction: a physical class slowly spins off portions into online sections. This means a lot of the class can occur online, but it is still constrained by scheduled, physical meetings instead of fully taking advantage of the digital format.

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By moving from a conventional online class, more helpful, innovative ways of addressing online learning can be addressed. Georgetown’s system is based on holding the same class twice a week at scheduled times- students only need to tune into one of the two. Attendance is done entirely remotely. Students teleconference in and participate in a live discussion just as they would in a traditional setting. Their webcams and microphones are utilized to give the illusion of physically being present. In this way, the digital classroom experience is raised beyond the typical list of tasks and readings and becomes a personally engaging system. Interactivity even includes a method of virtually raising one’s hand, and splitscreen conversations between professor and pupil. Perhaps UW Bothell could adapt this system to let more students participate in each class while preserving the same small-class feel that has become its trademark.

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