This past Saturday, I had the chance to go see Matchbox 20 perform live. Now, I can almost hear you wondering: How can attending a concert give thoughts to hybrid learning? Did I peak your interests yet? Let me walk you through my thoughts that night.
I had purchased good seats for the show and was excited to watch the performance, take a few pictures, some video – the usual. However, as Matchbox 20 took to stage, and all the attendees stood up, my vantage point was quickly compromised. I was now looking at back of heads of really tall men. I began shifting left and right to get a better view of the show – as were others in front of me doing. I was now watching a segmented performance. At that point, I decided to start taking pictures and videos – at least, I thought, let me try to capture to screen what I could not see. As I lifted my arm above heads with camera in hand, and recorded the performance, I realized that I was actually watching the performance through my viewfinder. With conversations of synchronous hybrid learning still fresh in mind, the analogy became clear.
Due to the specific limitation of my height, my vision of the performance was restricted. Through my camera screen, however, I was able to overcome that limitation and have a visual experience of the show that is similar to those way in front of me. Yes, I was not seeing in a way exactly the same as others, but I was hearing the same performance, and feeling the same sound reverberations on my skin. My experience was thus comparable.
This idea of comparable experience is at the heart of synchronous hybrid learning. Through the use of technology, hybrid learners can overcome whatever limitation is present to them at the moment (typically distance) and experience a class in a way similar to those attending it in person. Subsequently, their experience of the class is augmented when compared to how they would have experienced it minus the technology. This augmentation made the experiences comparable. Similarly, my experience at the concert was augmented with the use of my camera viewfinder.
It is through the affordances of technology that the learners’ experiences are augmented and made more and more comparable to others. When we look at things like the tripad (iPad on a tripod) and the node chairs with iPads attached, we are trying to give the hybrid learners a view of the class similar to how other students are experiencing it. When capitalizing on the affordances of technology, the hybrid learners’ experiences are becoming more and more comparable to those of the face-to-face learners’. Well, at least before your battery runs out.