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ISLA (Inclusive Synchronous Learning Activities) guide

This guide will explain what the capabilities and use-cases are for rooms set up for ISLA teaching.

How can ISLA help teaching?

Hybrid/HyFlex teaching enables lecturers to ensure that all students, both in-person and online, can participate fully and equally in learning simultaneously. At its best, this kind of teaching provides the most flexibility to students and the opportunity for innovative teaching and resource development. This guide will introduce you to how hybrid teaching via ISLA is set up at City, including the technology and pedagogical aspects to consider in your planning.

A literature review undertaken by the academic team at LEaD identified the following benefits of this kind of teaching for students, staff, and institutions in existing literatures:

  • Students are more able to participate as attendance mode can be more flexible to individual and changing student circumstances (Miller et al, 2013; Pathak and Palvia, 2021). Students can therefore continue to actively participate in a module even if they cannot consistently attend in-person sessions. (Beatty, 2019; Raman et al, 2021). This is particularly helpful in increasing student agency (Taylor, 2020; Naffi, 2020; Bevacqua et al, 2019) especially when students may have different health and safety needs (Kohnke, 2021) and/or commuting constraints (Bartolo, 2020; Lieberman, 2018; Miller et al, 2013).
  • Students also benefit from having access to the widest range of learning resources (Beatty, 2019). This gives students more opportunities to learn in ways suitable to different educational needs and learning preferences (Raman et al, 2021). Students also develop stronger digital skills (Bevacqua et al, 2019; Miller et al, 2013) as well as independent study capabilities. 
  • Staff and institutions benefit in increasing the number and type of students who are able to attend courses (Beatty, 2019; Educause, 2020; Pathak and Palvia, 2021), including students who may be too far away to commute to attend in-person sessions regularly. 
  • Staff can also benefit in the long-term from an expansion and development of their digital skills and teaching processes (Beatty, 2019). 

Pathak & Palvia, 2021 argue that HyFlex teaching compares favourably to other kinds of teaching (traditional online, face-to-face, and combined synchronous and asynchronous) when it comes to student flexibility, but also has the highest costs for staff and institutions in terms of time and money. 

Table showing how hyflex teaching is both high on student flexibility but also high in staff cost and time

Fig 1. Pathak & Palvia, 2021.

Workshop recording: ISLA pedagogical workshop

Recording of workshop delivered in September 2021.

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