Parallel teaching refers to teaching online and on-campus students simultaneously in two separate learning environments.

Parallel teaching, also called blended synchronous or concurrent classroom, means that you are teaching with some students physically attending class and others joining remotely via video conferencing. This approach requires the design and facilitation of learning activities that are effective simultaneously for students in two different learning environments.

Parallel teaching enables flexible options for students to engage in classes. However, this method of teaching also presents some limitations.

  • Managing students in person and online simultaneously can be demanding
  • Creating a sense of fairness between the cohorts can be difficult
  • The timing for many activities is different between these contexts
  • Keeping all students engaged is challenging.

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Managing the challenges of parallel teaching

While in some contexts running separate on-campus and online classes may be more effective and efficient, in other cases there are ways to manage these challenges. Below are some tips:

Technology

  • Practice with the technology – audio-visual guides, Zoom guides, workshops and support are available.
  • Only one computer in the physical space should be connected to Zoom audio at a time to avoid feedback and echoes.
  • Ask for help a colleague or student helping monitor the online chat can enhance communication for all students and let you focus on other tasks.

Activities

  • Begin each class with a welcome routine/task and prepare on campus and online students by allocating them into separate groups.
  • Make use of teacher-led activities to set student expectations, discuss plans and ensure students have access to the core content and instructions for the session. Then transition to the online and in-class activities, so teachers can connect the online students in breakout rooms to work collaboratively.
    Examples of a teacher-led activity:
    • Provide direct instruction, core concept, strategy, or process.
    • Demonstrate a specific skill.
    • Facilitate whole group discussions to drive deeper thinking.
  • Start simple with activity design and technology. Plan activities that include social interaction or human connection – these can be facilitated in synchronous time so students can access peer support. Individual work and tasks that allow students to control place and pace are often more suitable for asynchronous learning (outside of class time). More complex activities can be added as you and your students get more comfortable with this format or as time permits.
    Examples of online and in-class activities:
    • Engage in an online discussion to share their knowledge on a topic.
    • Work collaboratively to research a topic to build their background knowledge.
    • Read and annotate independently in a limited duration.
    • Create a concept map to surface their learning.
    • Complete an ideas board (e.g. PadletUQ) or answer questions.

Conclude activities by bringing all (online and in-class) students together to present and/or review outcomes from the learning activities in an exit activity. This prompts students to reflect on their learning, encourages future engagement and provides feedback about the learning experience.

Be generous with time – moving students between activities, setting up and managing the extra technology and connecting to students in different modes will take more time.

Work with your students to find which activities work best online only, asynchronous, on-campus only or in parallel.

General

Don’t mix breakout groups too often. Students in class tend to sit in the same place, keeping online breakout groups the same during and across classes helps students develop connections and can help manage the time for introductions involved in group activities.

Consider student equity and be open and transparent in how you organise your class.

With the extra challenges of parallel teaching, planning becomes even more important, consider the following template when designing your parallel, zoom and in-person class:

Target standard/s:

 

Learning objective/s:

 

Welcome activity:

 

Duration

Teacher-led activity

Online and in-class activity

 

 

 

Exit activity:

Source: adapted from https://www.studysync.com/blog/tips-for-navigating-a-concurrent-classroom).

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Parallel teaching at UQ

Many of UQ’s teaching spaces (PDF, 34.8 KB) have been upgraded with technology to support connecting to students remotely using Zoom or record more class interactions with Zoom. Technical guides will be available in all upgraded spaces. These upgrades enable you to use the microphones, document cameras and web cameras for Zoom meetings. Collaborative spaces have ceiling microphones and cameras to enable students in the class to be seen and heard online.

Recording teaching activities is popular with students and can create valuable support resources for students who do not attend a class. If you are sharing recordings of students, please advise your students that they are being recorded and provide them with an opportunity to not be recorded. You could do this by designating areas of your room as off-camera and advising students that they are not required to have their camera on when using Zoom. Learn more about how Zoom recordings are managed at UQ.

For more information, view ITS's guide on parallel teaching from a UQ lecture theatre. You can also download these guides in PDF format:

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References

Tucker, C. (2021) Tips for navigating a concurrent classroom, Retrieved 4 June 2021, from https://www.studysync.com/blog/tips-for-navigating-a-concurrent-classroom

Hedlund, A. (2021) In-person & online: 3 useful models for concurrent classrooms, Retrieved 4 June 2021, from https://edcrocks.com/2021/01/16/in-person-online-3-useful-models-for-concurrent-classrooms/

Tucker, C. (2020) Back to basics: lesson planning for concurrent classroom, Retrieved 11 June 2020 from https://catlintucker.com/2020/10/basics-lesson-planning-concurrent-classroom/

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Need help?

ITaLI offers personalised support services across various areas including parallel teaching approaches.

Note: for technical or AV support while conducting a Zoom class:
  • in UQ classrooms: use the ITS-AV phone number on the lectern, or
  • alternatively, call +61 7 336 56000.