A Day in the Life – Hybrid Education

Today, I start my first day as a professor of public speaking in a hybrid teaching environment. Oh, I’m not new to teaching–just the environment. Granted, it’s been awhile. It is both an exciting and daunting task. I won’t mention any names because it really doesn’t matter what institution it is; they are all relatively the same in how the process works.

This post begins my first hands-on experience with urban students and then it’s on to the suburbs to teach the same class to a different group at a another campus. You know about different audiences so I won’t go there except to say, it is, of course, something I must consider in how I relate my subject to my students. Not that these are necessarily big things–just different. Just like any other audience. You have to know who you are dealing with so you don’t step on your tongue, assuming anything.

Students have a different experience from when I was learning the same, but the parts that need to be in class are in class; those that can be written or discussed can be done in a form–a mandatory thread and posts that meet certain requirements and standards. In my class, communication is the name of the game so we’re talking practice on all levels. Because we are in class a few times, eight to be exact and for three to four hours, the days in class a student can miss are severely limited. Miss two and you can be withdrawn from class completely. gone are the days of showing up and passing (or not) the mid-term and exams in some classes. Here, you have to be present because that is when most of the substantial grading is done. Easy to fail; easy to be withdrawn for lack of attendance.

Let’s face it. This is when I am going to have my students show me they know how to give a speech. In the threads, we’ll talk about about we do things, give examples that we know what we are talking about. And, of course, I am there to guide and instruct.

I’ve written on hybrid education before, and I still feel it is definitely part of our future, not only in education but also in training. In fact, I think trainers got there first, but I find it interesting that we don’t put nearly as much emphasis on it in training; it’s as if we only want to save money, rather than train, making training somewhat less important than education. We could debate the two and I think education wins in the long run because it is training for life; while we are training to do a better job.

We have become a society of too much to do and too little time. We have technology for everything, and we even have technology to manage our technology with voice commands. On our phones. Today it’s the I-Phone 4S. Tomorrow?

I have already had one student request to use her smart phone (at least I’m assuming it’s smart) to do the online portions of her class because her computer is in the shop; life happens. Now, I know smart phones are seducing us in the market as the only electronic product we’ll ever need, but I still have a hard time writing on a laptop, let alone a small phone screen. Different too is the touchscreen. For some, it’s a dream to others a nightmare. But here’s something students won’t let you know they know: libraries have computers and internet access. Teachers know it. Internet cafe’s? Sometimes you have to do what you’ve got to do. I’m a survivalist, remember. Cave Man–that’s me. I just look better on paper, but I’ve been there and I’m a good resource.

I find it interesting that here on the Training and Development site, I have a following of students from another university that I think operates the same way or similarly. In essence I am doing the same job of teaching these students online. I love it. I really do, and I am so glad to see they get why I am saying something. It’s a free education. Even at my age, if someone offered me the chance to go back to school…I’d jump, but life does influence our choices. I waited a long time to do what I love because life was hard and I needed a job and I needed security. Well, I still need the security, but I could only last so long not doing what I love. Eventually I tried to do it all and nearly wore myself out. But it’s worth it. I’m working harder and loving it more.

Had I been born sooner, as a student I like to think I would have used the Internet for the very same reasons and more. I hear something in a movie or read something in a book, it’s so easy to clarify what it is I don’t know. I review plays, too, as some regulars to this blog know. I don’t always know the show. How could I know them all, but I use the Internet to find out what others have said, starting with Wikipedia because it is a good basic place to start. Is it the kind of place I will accept has having authoritative information? No, but there are links found there that are.

My first day. I am not worried about the students–except that I don’t know them yet. I like them without knowing them and I want them to like me. I want them to see the value in what I convey to them and apply it to their lives. They don’t know I had my share of problems growing up; first impressions can be deceiving. We all got to where we are based on where we come from. You can’t help who your parents are or where they came from. I could just as easily been born somewhere else and grew up in a totally different environment, but this is the one I’ve got; this is my reality.

It is the reality of my students as well. This electronic age and how it affects education is what it is. Beats the one-room school house, which I’m sure in it’s day beat the not having a school at all. Of course, you didn’t need some of the sophisticated tools of today, like being able to communicate well. All you needed then was to read and write, and if you did that, you were off to a good start. Many jobs were open to you, but some still required more specialized education. You made choices.

We have choices today. Of course, I feel communication (and public speaking) paves the way for many jobs, and can communicate credibility and leadership traits necessary for success. If you want success, that is. I’d like to say, “Who doesn’t?” It’s always apparent some aren’t willing to work for it. Being “old” I know that it pays off. Guess it’s my job to convince them.

I will be challenged. I know my audience (I will know them better shortly), I know my subject, and I know myself.

Today I have to figure out how the grade book works. Important. Not just a log book like in the past, but an electronic marvel that provides real time feedback. I always hated waiting for grades. Teacher and student habits. We have to get into the routine. Once there, we won’t need to think about the routine, we’ll just know it and do what we have to do.

My biggest concern is that students (and I know what it’s like) will wonder how to minimize what they do. Efficiency. “What do I need to do to pass?” Not good. “What do I need to do to excel?” Better. “What do I need to do to succeed, not only in this class, but use that information to everything else?” Best.

As for me, don’t wish me luck. I’m doing what I love. I will be challenged. I know my audience (I will know them better shortly), I know my subject, and I know myself.

I will follow from time to time with similar ruminations on life teaching the hybrid education and how it relates to training. Totally off this topic, I am planning to talk about the enrichment programs at sea on the cruise lines. Sounds like a fun thing for a trainer, speaker, actor, author to do. In a couple of weeks I will be doing my first on ship. I’ll pay for the cruise, but I want to be on that stage, working with that audience, and seeing what else is out there to experience. As I keep doing all that do because it is exciting and worthwhile. My passion.

The words here are my own. There’s more on my website, including dramatic criticism and comment. Saw and reviewed three wonderful shows this weekend: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, and PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE. Talk about variety. All did a profesional job communicating life. I had my suspicions of ROCKY since it has a cult following, but in the hands of a professional theatre group, the original theatre came through. PICASSO, if you didn’t know, is Steve Martin’s first play and it is a witty look at how art and science are very similar. Two guys walk into a bar…Picasso and Einstein. I’ll put in the links later, but you can find them on my website under What I Say.

Check out my book, The Cave Man Guide to Training and Development.If you don’t know me, I take a rather non-traditional look at training, reacquainting us with the basics and reminding us what we may have forgotten since the days of the Cave Man. The book is inexpensive and an easy read–a compilation with some modification of related blogs you would find here. End of plug. Happy training.

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