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Humanist Archives: May 6, 2022, 5:31 a.m. Humanist 35.687 - models for hybrids

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 687.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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    [1]    From: John Wall <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.686: models for hybrids? (61)

    [2]    From: Jennifer Edmond <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.686: models for hybrids? (83)

        Date: 2022-05-05 15:53:56+00:00
        From: John Wall <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.686: models for hybrids?

Not sure what the best hybrid model is, but the most significant discovery
for me about using a hybrid model has been the dramatic expansion of
the opportunity for participation. In the past 2 years, I have taken part
in meetings in which people on line were, literally, participating from all
over the world, simultaneously engaged in scholarly conversations. The size
of one's travel budget is no longer the limiting factor for participation
it has been in the past. Also, the question of personal safety remains. The
Renaissance Society of America chose to have its 2022 meeting in Dublin,
exclusively in-person. I chose not to go and am thankful of that because
the half-dozen or so people I do know who went to Dublin ALL got sick with
Covid. Very discouraging!


On Thu, May 5, 2022 at 4:52 AM Humanist <> wrote:

>               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 686.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                       Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>         Date: 2022-05-05 08:48:55+00:00
>         From: Willard McCarty <>
>         Subject: models for hybrids?
> As pandemic time has elapsed it's become clear that hybrid arrangements
> for events continue to be a good idea, at least both for those who are
> playing it safe and for ongoing seminars, workshops and the like that
> have experienced gains, sometimes large, in attendance.
> So, what does our experience with hybridization tell us? Is there
> consensus that we've discovered (been forced into) something that is
> worth continuing as an option for academic events? Are there models for
> how a hybrid event is best done? Examples of what not to do?
> Responses to these questions would be greatly appreciated.
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

John N. Wall
Professor of English Literature
NC State University
Principal Investigator for
The Virtual St Paul's Cathedral Project
The Virtual Paul's Cross Project

        Date: 2022-05-05 14:18:14+00:00
        From: Jennifer Edmond <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.686: models for hybrids?

Dear Willard,

This is an important question to be asking (and one that DH should be able to
provide some well-formed responses to).

I was asked a few weeks back to write something about this very issue for the
Irish academic blogging platform, RTE Brainstorm.  While I am still trying to
feel my way to submitting the final piece to them, perhaps this excerpt will be
useful and of interest to your needs?  A lot of it is just common sense, but
even common sense benefits from informed consideration!



In theory, hybridity sounds like a great idea: participants who can safely and
efficiently gather face-to-face do, gaining the benefits of richer interaction,
including those serendipitous chats over the coffee break we have all missed.
Meanwhile, attendees for whom virtual participation is a better option can stay
in their home offices (and slippers), but still be a part of the meeting.

This ‘best of both worlds’ option makes sense, in theory at least, not only in a
world that will still be living with COVID for a while, but one that also still
has the rising ecological costs of commuting and business travel to contend
with. But the practice of hybrid meetings may not live up to the promise. Like
virtual meetings, hybrid meetings have specific requirements to run well, which
are not the same as either face-to-face or virtual, but unique to the need to
integrate the two. So if you are considering a hybrid format for your next
meeting, here are a few things you might want to consider.

First, think carefully about your equipment. A laptop is a great way for a
single person, sitting face-on to their screen, to participate in a virtual
meeting. The same built-in microphone and camera will never pick up the voice
(much less facial expression) of that quiet colleague down at the far end of the
table, however. Even if you don’t have the budget to completely refit your
conference room (or if your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated space), you
still have options to improve your hybrid game, however. For hybrid teaching, I
myself have a surprisingly light ‘go-bag’ containing a USB microphone and a
portable PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) camera, both of which I can plug in to my laptop
when I arrive in whatever room I am using. It pays to do your research here: for
example, the best microphone for you will depend on the room you use and the
kinds of meetings you have. It makes a difference whether you want to optimise
for a single speaker (for which a so-called cardioid mic will help cancel
background noise) or a lively debate across the conference table (for which you
may need an omni- or bi-directional mic). Remember that how remote participants
experience the in-room meeting will be dependent on a few narrow channels, so
you must put some effort into making those as good as possible. You may also
find you need more than one connection in the room, for example if a flip chart
is being used to gather notes on responses to questions that need to be visible
from a presentation slide.

Cool tech will only get you so far, however. Making sure your virtual
participants don’t feel like second class citizens will also require some human
effort as well. It can be difficult as a square on a screen to break in to a
lively conversation in the room. This unintentional relegation of the on-line
participant to observer or disruptor status can be avoided by giving them a
dedicated, empowered in-room representative. This person (not the meeting chair)
can monitor the faces, raised hands (real and virtual) and chat messages and
ensure they are recognised and integrated, acting as a bridge between the
virtual space and the physical room. They can also make sure that presentations
have been shared both online and in room, a very easy aspect of hybridity to
neglect, especially when presenters are crossing software packages.

For the people in the room, don’t forget to give some thought to recreating the
affordances of the digital. In a recent hybrid meeting I attended, the chair
very kindly put useful links into the zoom chat - forgetting that this now
natural gesture was useless to his local colleagues. Having a messaging app or
an openly editable space open for all participants to share notes or links in
real time can also foster greater integration. A word of warning, however, that
juggling too many channels (without the extra space afforded by that external
monitor you have at home) can be a challenge, and the norms of extra channel
interaction are very different between virtual and physical gatherings.

Finally, don’t ignore the social stuff.  If coffee arrives ‘in room,’ make sure
to give virtual participants a few minutes to make themselves a cuppa as well.
Over a break, set up small group chats between local and hybrid participants.
Use a platform such a Minglr to promote serendipitous interaction. This kind of
chat may seem artificial at first, so if your group doesn’t know each other
well, you may find giving groups a little structure (like a discussion prompt or
challenge) helpful.

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