Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Hybrid learning and teaching

Information and guidance to help support you in a hybrid learning and teaching environment.

At the University of Edinburgh courses and programmes are being taken by students digitally and on campus, working together.  We are making our teaching as flexible and accessible to students as possible. This will allow everyone to work together at the same pace and with the same technology.

We want our students, regardless of location, to have the best education possible. … And when the time comes for our off-campus students to join us, we hope it will all feel familiar to you – and classmates you will either already know, or have met online, will be here for you too.” 

Colm HarmonVice-Principal Students

Hybrid teaching and learning: Some terminology

A few straight-forward definitions of key terms being used in a hybrid learning context.

Hybrid learning - where no separation is made between digital and on campus student cohorts. Students are brought together by the way teaching is designed and students are able to move easily between digital and classroom-based learning activities.

Synchronous - learning in real time together with a group of others at a specific time.

Asynchronous - learning that can happen at any time and therefore at different times for members of a group.

Social learning - learning in a group with other people by having discussions and sharing knowledge (both digital and otherwise).

Netiquette - an awareness of a need to be respectful and have good manners when using digital platforms.

Make time and space

To get the most out of your learning it is best to have a daily routine and plan time for study. You will need to focus on your studies, reduce any distractions and structure your day. To some extent you will have the flexibility to pace your studies yourself and be able to choose when, where and how you study. 

You may be able to contribute digitally, using a mobile device, while other things are going on. However, for in-depth research, reading and assignment preparation, you will need undisturbed time.  Let others know you are busy. You may need to negotiate quiet times, internet access and space to study with those around you. 

Try and make your work area separate from where you like to relax. For example, sit at a table to study and put study materials away at other times. You can make a separate login on your laptop for when you are working on your studies and a different one for socialising and entertainment. 

For tips, strategies and planners to help you make the best use of your time see our Time management page.

Time management

Think about how best to learn

There are approaches to study that are known to make a difference. Being active and engaged makes studying more interesting, more satisfying and memorable. This can be as simple as pausing to ask questions and actively looking for connections.

Did you know that spreading out your study sessions over time leads to improved learning?  Or that self-testing is a powerful way to learn?  For tips and strategies see our Effective studying page.

Effective studying

Make notes as you learn

Making your own notes allows you to process what you are learning and helps you to understand it for yourself. You will need to make notes in classes, in synchronous group sessions, from digital learning materials including videos, and from written texts. 

You will use video and audio recordings as part of your learning. Recordings come in different styles and are for different purposes. You can play, replay and pause recordings to help pick up on any important points. It is a good idea to establish a routine and engage with recordings regularly, as if attending classes, rather than bingeing. Aim to be selective and identify the key points in the form of a summary. Try to identify what points you want to follow up (e.g. through further reading).

Making notes as you read texts and use sources helps you to process and reflect on the material. You also need to observe good academic referencing practice. There are a number of effective ways to read and make notes depending on why you are using the source.

For tips and strategies on making notes see these pages:

Making notes in class

Reading at university

IS Guidance on using lecture recordings

Discussion

An important part of learning is contributing to discussion both digitally and on campus in the room.  It is your opportunity to get involved, create debate, ask questions and clarify your own understanding. When we actively participate in learning we are more likely to remember the material discussed. Others will have different perspectives and reasons that you may not have considered before. These represent opportunities for learning.

In digital spaces it can be harder to get an idea across when the contributor is not seen and heard. You may not agree, but try to respond respectfully.  Be aware your audience may be diverse.  Use appropriate language and clear English. 

Discussing and sharing (pdf)            Discussing and sharing (Word rtf)

Top tips for communicating online (pdf)    Top tips for communicating online (Word rtf)

Collaborative group working

Most courses involve group discussion and many require students to work in a group on a project that will be assessed. Group work allows students to come together to consider a range of views and address problems by developing creative solutions. 

It may be important for your personal development and future career that you are able to work in different types of groups, interacting both in person and by using technology.

For tips and strategies on effective collaboration see our Group working page.

Group working

Netiquette

Netiquette is about being respectful and having good manners in digital environments. When we can’t hear how something is being said and see facial expressions, a lot of clues that help our understanding are absent. 

The University is committed to providing an environment in which all members of the University community treat each other with dignity and respect. The University has a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment or discrimination. The Dignity and Respect Policy sets out the expectations placed on everyone. The Students’ Association Advice Place has trained advisors who offer independent advice and support.

Respect at Edinburgh (Dignity and respect policy)

Students’ Association Advice Place

Take care and stay safe

Keep in touch with other students so that being a student is part of your life and a shared experience. Find out what is going on in your School or Deanery and make a note of how to contact your Student Support team. There are University services to support you and help you focus on your wellbeing. 

Stay safe while you are learning. Learn how to build up your digital resilience and protect yourself from cyber threats. Find out about the responsible use of technology to learn and participate (including the computing regulations and the rules around information security).

Health and wellbeing

Digital Safety and Citizenship

Online learning tools and digital skills

Information Services have a guide to the main digital learning tools the University supports.  These include the Learn Virtual Learning Environment, Collaborate for classes, Library Resource Lists and Media Hopper for recordings.  You can also use your university desktop on your own device via APPS.ED. 

Digital tools for learning and studying

APPS.ED gives you access a number of the commonly-used University applications from any device. The range of software includes: MS Office applications and packages for statistics, reference management and concept mapping.

EdHelp makes information on library services and help with technology easier to find.

Digital study skills include efficient literature searching, data management and communication.  A wide range of digital tools can be used for learning, conducting and sharing research, and to build a profile.