Managing your hybrid course with Cornelsen’s Basis for Business
This 30-minute talk aimed to give Business English trainers an overview of lessons learned in the “two worlds” of online and presence training. Clients and learners are now requesting courses that some participants attend physically, while others log on using a conference interface. While this flexibility matches increased mobility needs, it also poses new technical and didactic challenges. The devil is often in the details.
The talk discussed how to manage hybrid courses, suggesting how to design and manage contact hours so that they enable both the present and the remote participants to improve their communication skills as defined by the CEFR Companion. Examples of such lesson plans were based on Basis for Business, now available as a modular digital resource package, in combination with external resources and mobile tools, creating a customized syllabus.
Quite frankly, it’s early days, too early to report success stories. Overall, the talk warned of expected pitfalls and the need to manage expectations and be ready for dangers yet unknown, yet also encouraged trainers to embrace change for the benefit of their clients and learners, taking the opportunity to refocus on their pedagogical aims and to find new ways of achieving them.
Going from presence and online to hybrid
So, what do participants want to keep from the experiences of the past 1.5 years? First surveys show that many prefer key aspects of online courses, finding them more time-effective and focussed. Online breakouts and including offsite hybrid team members are appreciated. Digitalized media and easy peer file sharing, documenting vocabulary and grammar in the chat, and new course environments have become standard. Sharing in-app online voice and video recordings (Zoom) is very useful in coaching.
While some learners prefer streamlined online input (expect studies on cognitively diverse learners), others have been held back by connectivity issues. Lately, attending classes from a workstation is becoming inconvenient, as office workers return, and the space becomes busier.
The best parts of presence training are generally said to be socializing and multisensory, emotional learning.
The hybrid setup disrupts both of those worlds. The playing field is clearly split, with online members having views of the situation and communication needs very different from those in the room. Will all participants rotate into the room and online? Will those online remain the out-group? That obviously changes the game.
A way forward for plenary work will be to involve the online group in the socializing and experiential learning, and the in-the-room group in the digital sharing and documenting.
Special pedagogical challenges for the trainer in hybrid learning will be connected to organizing group practice effectively. We discussed why this is so important: Key communicative competencies from the CEFR Companion are best acquired by practicing situations, experiencing immediate feedback, and then considering what has just happened. Contact sessions, therefore, need to include communicative practice. As we design hybrid courses, we need to manage group work well and factor in well-organized instruction, especially to support the online individuals hived off in their breakout sessions.
Some basic tips for hybrid courses
A basic need: conference hardware, i.e. audio (e.g. Jabra), video camera (best: 360 degrees, following the speaker), large monitor or if necessary a laptop + projector
Manage a single audiovisual interface
Show materials through the conference software on a large monitor or projector
Mute microphones/loudspeakers of possible student devices going online to avoid feedback distortion
Have a headset ready to support online breakout groups or individuals (take time out)
Use mobile apps to poll the online and present groups together
Manage files on course platform/ intranet.
Assign a book and/or other materials with clear instructions
Negotiate/ agree on rules of participation, manage expectations, define boundaries
Document classroom work in the chat – Assign roles for vocab + tasks
Show and respond to the chat – Assign chat monitor role
Save documentation to your platform
levelling the playing field:
Use mobile polls www.mentimeter.com for whole class
Assign asynchronous collaborative tasks to integrate groups
Using Basis for Business
You’d like to integrate your own materials? Basis for Business has a modular structure.
You share all materials on screen? Then get the eBook.
You value group work in communication training? Each lesson in Basis for Business is built around a communicative core.
Lessons should be clearly organized and it should be easy to add in or suppplement external materials seamlessly? All videos and listening exercises should be directly accessible and in one place? The UnterrichtsManager provides that.
You want stimulating exercises for student self-study? They’re available in the mobile app, PagePlayer, for free.
The standard structure of the double-spread units (designed for 90 minutes) can easily be extended, and we saw how in a course based on Basis for Business C1 that added work on presentations and job interviews. Two lesson examples showed how external materials/ media could be added in, or how a discussion task from the book could be turned into a mobile poll before a plenary discussion. Individual online exploration of a job website could lead into an additional group activity to prepare for job interviews.
Many thanks to Carl Dowse, Britta Landermann, and Marion Karg for generously sharing their concepts and experience. All mistaken extrapolations are my own.
Basis for Business C1 Coursebook (Cornelsen 2020) – by Anne Hodgson, Carole Eilertson, with Mike Hogan and the advisor team – Kartoniert: ISBN 978-3-06-122164-5; e-Book: ISBN 978-3-06-122171-3
Basis for Business C1 Teachers Guide (Cornelsen 2021), by Andreas Grundtvig: ISBN 978-3-06-122167-6.
Basis for Business C1 Workbook (Cornelsen 2021) – by Angela Lloyd, ISBN 978-3-06-122165-2
Basis for Business C1 PagePlayer app (Cornelsen 2020) – w. additional interactive exercises
PagePlayer for coursebook: 978-3-06-122527-8
PagePlayer for workbook: ISBN 978-3-06-122526-1
Basis for Business C1 Unterrichtsmanager (Cornelsen April 2021) 978-3-06-122169-0 – sign up for 90 days for a free trial
Course materials available online: https://www.cornelsen.de/codes/code/butofo
Council of Europe (April 2020): CEFR Companion Volume, ISBN 978-92-871-8621-8 available for free at www.coe.int/lang-cefr