Alternating Synchronous Class Meetings

Post by Krista Ingram & Eddie Watkins

The concept presented in this CLTR Morning Grind session defined “platooning” or “staggering” as dividing a class into smaller groups / parts for more effective in-person or remote learning. A recording of this session is available at the following link (Colgate login required): 

This student grouping approach might be a particularly useful strategy in the age of physical distancing, as classroom interactions must be spread over a more dispersed area. There are a multitude of ways that Colgate faculty are planning to stagger their classrooms:

A Flipped Classroom Approach:  Pre-recorded lectures are viewed remotely with platoons meeting on alternative days in the classroom for discussion/active learning.  Thus, on subsequent classes (T/R), the professor will prepare the same material for in-class learning. 

A Partial In-person Model: Only part of the class is in-person during a class period; on subsequent classes (T/R), the professor will prepare the same material for in-class learning.  The remote platoon would work on remote exercises on alternate class days.

A Hybrid Approach: Only part of the class is in-person during a class period and the other part/platoon views the identical material remotely.  On alternate class days, the platoons switch.  Professors prepare new material for each class period (less remote work/activities required).

 A Daily Half & Half Approach: The instructor divides the course time period in two and students from platoon A attend the first half of class; students from platoon B attend the second half.  Remote work would round out the required course time.  Students get in-person experience during every class period.

A ‘Super Professor’ (Adding Time) Approach: Divide class into platoons and use shared, common times to incorporate additional class time for discussions.

Suggestions from Colgate Faculty:

— Less is more?: be aware of the student workload when considering pre-recorded lectures, remote activities, in-person discussions and homework.

— Try to minimize time with the entire class on zoom. Reduce Zoom fatigue.

— Consider the use of Hypothesis for group close reading and discussion of course texts. 

— Consider a live syllabus (Google doc or other), especially if wanting to mix up platoons OR embed a google calendar-based syllabus in Moodle

 — Assign group breakout rooms ahead of time. Be aware of interpersonal dynamics of these clusters. Keeping groups consistent can help build community. For groups for the entire semester, for a few weeks, or for specific topics.

— Consider the use of pods (smaller groups of students, say in groups A, B, C, D that can attend class with other pods on different days, Tuesday: A&B, Thursday: C:D; these groups can then switch the next week to meet everyone in class, but still have some continuity within the constancy of their own pod).