Last Friday I posted this picture on Instagram. It prompted a few questions on Instagram and in my inbox. The picture is of my current hybrid classroom equipment arrangement. Back in August I published a rundown of my hybrid classroom arrangement. It’s changed a bit since then to meet my changing needs and those of my students. Here’s a rundown of my current hybrid classroom equipment and arrangement.
Two laptops = Mr. Byrne x 2!
I use two laptops during Zoom meetings. I sign into one of them to initiate the meetings then on the other one I sign in and become a co-host. By doing this I can screen-share from one laptop while using the other to monitor chat, check Google Classroom, check email, or do other things that I don’t want to have students see.
My school provides every teacher with a MacBook Air to use for Zoom and or other tasks. I also have laptops assigned to my classroom for student use. And I bring my personal laptop to school. Most days I use the MacBook Air and one of the classroom laptops.
If you look at the picture, I have my MacBook Air on top of a stack of text books which is on top of an old rolling cart (wheels are locked). I do that so that the camera is eye-level. That MacBook is also hooked up to a FiFine microphone, a Bose Bluetooth speaker, and to my LCD projector. That’s the computer that I primarily use for screen-sharing. Students who are in the room see exactly what I’m showing to the kids who are at home.
The second laptop is on a small rolling podium. I use the rolling podium so that when my in-person students are working on something that I want their at-home classmates to see, I can quickly roll it over and show them. Again, most days I use one of the classroom laptops for this, but on Monday I used a MacBook Air for this. Which device is where isn’t as important as having two relatively mobile devices.
In the picture above I had three in-person students working on a switch and router configuration activity and three at-home students helping them. The at-home students were able to see what the students in class were doing. All six students were talking to each other to work through the configuration activity together.
It turns out that my voice carries quite well (not only do I have a face made for radio, I also have voice for it) so I haven’t needed to use my wireless microphone for my at-home students to hear me when I wander away from my laptop. The FiFine microphone that my school purchased has been sufficient. That said, when some of my quieter in-person students speak I do have to ask them to speak up in order for their at-home classmates to hear them.
As you can see from my pictures, I don’t have the fanciest set-up or a Pinterest-worthy classroom. What I have focused on is making sure that everyone can see and hear what needs to be seen and heard during class. I’m also doing my best to make sure that at-home students and in-person students can interact during class.
Finally, it is infinitely easier to teach when all students are in one place. 100% online and 100% in-person is a heck of a lot easier to manage and make meaningful than a 50/50, 40/60, or 10/90 split (yes, I have one class in which only one student comes into school).