Hybrid or Mixed-Use Teaching and Learning Landscapes: From the Quad to Digital Teaching and Learning Spaces

Cosette Lemelin, Assistant Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning, shares some advice for instructors engaging with hybrid learning options.


Recent discussions about returning to campus this fall have got me thinking about our teaching and learning spaces, places, and landscapes. Similar to most universities historically, the teaching and learning spaces of the U of A campuses are organized around a quadrangle (a quad), a yard or central open space surrounded by buildings with classrooms, labs, meeting rooms, and offices (Turner, 1984). On the greenspaces of our quads, some students engage in study or discussion about their courses while others ‘network’ or forge friendships, romantic connections, or secure a space in line at the beer tent during the Week of Welcome in September. 

Then, in 2020, a global pandemic sent us off campus to teaching and learning online from the personal spaces of our homes. We adapted and persevered as instructors and students with Zoom, eClass, and maybe even the occasional desperate text message to a trusted colleague or classmate to say “this just happened. What now?”. 

Fast forward to Fall 2021 where 50 classrooms are set up for teaching and learning to occur concurrently through digital networked and in-person spaces. More specifically, some of our instructor colleagues will offer a hybrid form of teaching in which some students will attend class in-person while others will join class remotely. These instructors and students will experience our most innovative teaching and learning landscapes to date. Instructors who teach these first sections are pioneers in the future of post-secondary teaching and learning. Moreover, these mixed use landscapes in higher education will allow us to include and reach a greater diversity of students than ever before. 

It's not going to be perfect, technologically nor pedagogically. Many new questions will be posed and novel challenges will occur as we define these new teaching and learning spaces. As an Educational Developer with nearly two decades in higher education, my initial questions are:

  • How do we ensure an equitable learning opportunity for both in-person and online students?
  • How do we engage students in active learning strategies by going beyond the lecture method in the hybrid classroom? 
  • How do we create collaborations between students who are online and in-person? 
  • What do effective and equitable assessment practices look like in a hybrid course?

Our Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) is offering individual consultations with instructors around these concerns because a one-size-fits-all approach will not fit every hybrid teaching and learning space. Our Educational Developers will advise instructors engaging in hybrid teaching in an effort to account for class size (in-person and online), common teaching practices within the discipline, the comfort level and ability of the instructor, and other specific aspects of the teaching and learning process. To request a consultation, visit the CTL Consultations page.

Instructors engaging in these new approaches need our encouragement and support because these practices are our inroads into the future. The concept of remote work has been growing since the start of the millennium and has been accelerated by the coronavirus outbreak. Experts such as Tsedal Needly (2021) at Harvard Business School predict remote work is here to stay. This means our students need to learn to participate in online meetings, teams, and projects in order to be prepared for their future careers. Stated another way, going to work and university will continue to include logging in. While many of us will continue to appreciate our historial teaching and learning spaces and places at the U of A, our future also lies beyond the greenspaces of the quad. 

 A hybrid classroom is a learning space equipped with the ability to stream a class for online learning and is equipped with a computer, document camera, projector/display, microphone and a webcam that is connected to the room computer.

 Hybrid rooms can be booked through the Office of the Registrar. Consultations for teaching in hybrid classrooms are available through CTL. Technical training on how to use a hybrid classroom is available through IST.


Tsedal, N. (2021). Remote work revolution: Succeeding from anywhere. Harper Collins: Harvard University Press. 

Turner, P.V. (1984). Campus: An American planning tradition. Massachusetts: MIT Press

cosette.pngAbout Cosette 

Dr. Cosette Lemelin has 17 years of experience in Educational Developer roles in a 20-year career in adult and post-secondary education at three universities (the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, and the University of Alberta). She has a Master of Education (2003) and PhD in Education (2016) focusing on adult and post-secondary education. Cosette’s unique specialities include teaching within health professions education (with a focus on clinical practicum teaching and learning), classroom management, and varying aspects of interpersonal communication in teaching and learning. Cosette calls herself a “Teaching Coach” for university instructors and faculty members striving to improve their teaching one class, one activity, or one interaction at a time. Cosette is the 2019 recipient of the University of Alberta Excellence in Learning Support Award, and received the award again in 2020 with the CTL Team as part of their COVID 19 Response.