Interaction in Hybrid Teaching

In classroom seminars you often use activating methods intuitively. These have been proven to promote motivation and thus sustainable learning. But how does this succeed in hybrid courses? It also applies to hybrid and online teaching that the learning success is higher the more students participate and are involved.

On average, about 1/3 of the participants will be on site, 2/3 will take part in your hybrid course session online, regardless of location. With a seminar size of 30 people, this means that you will communicate with about 10 people directly and with another 20 via the medium of video conferencing. Experience has shown that participants often participate more strongly in face-to-face sessions and communicate more directly with each other - whether because of the personal contact, the use of facial expressions and gestures or the fellowship in the seminar - and online participants can thus be put out of focus. In order to be able to prevent this kind of imbalance, it is recommended that online participants be actively brought into focus again and again. This will ensure that they do not feel like passive listeners and that learning with each other on an equal footing is more likely to be possible.

The above-described difference in classroom participation may also be reinforced by the fact that the verbal interaction of the participants in class is hardly visible to the online participants via the room camera. Therefore, we recommend that students in attendance bring a digital device with which they can log into the video conference. This will enable them to address online participants directly in the plenary session. In any case, please make sure that only ONE microphone (ideally the room microphone) is activated in the seminar room. Otherwise, disturbing acoustic feedback can occur. 

The use of digital devices by the participants in attendance also allows small group work in breakout rooms with mixed groups (online and attendance). It should be noted here that students use a headset with headphones and microphone to minimise background noise.

On this page, we present some examples of how interaction in a hybrid seminar setting between students attending in person and those connected online can be successful.

We are also looking forward to your experiences and plans:  Which methods have already proven successful for you? We would be pleased if you could send us your teaching examples via!

Getting to Know Each Other and Group Building

Hybrid courses will also start online at first this semester. This will ensure that all students have the same opportunity to obtain information on the content and schedule of the courses they are attending and the sessions they are planning to attend. In addition, as a teacher you will certainly already have ideas on how to implement the rotation of attendance students. Information on this as well as a short introduction to the hybrid teaching format (see example slides by Dr. Mercedes Corrales-Carvajal) will certainly be of great interest to your students. 

You can encourage your students to get to know each other by asking a topic-related question in individual sessions at the beginning of the semester or on specific occasions and then asking each student to give a short statement on the topic and a few words about him or herself. You can support this visually - in purely online sessions with zoom - by using the whiteboard or chat. For larger groups and during the course of the semester, it is recommended that students be divided into small groups - so-called breakout rooms - to allow more active discussions that do not take up much time.

Co-Moderation and Ventilation Breaks

In order for you as a teacher to be able to concentrate on the professional discussion and interaction, we recommend that you involve the students in the session design and assign them different roles. For example, students can act as co-moderators, take care of the camera and microphone settings, monitor the chat or keep a list of speakers and thus actively support you in your session design. In addition, you give students the opportunity to practise further interdisciplinary skills. 

Since each seminar room must be cross-ventilated for 3-5 minutes at least every 20 minutes to ensure a sufficient exchange of air and thus reduce the risk of infection, you should delegate this coordination and implementation to students. They will pay attention to the time intervals and open the windows and doors for a limited period of time. Depending on your session concept, the outside temperatures and any disturbing noises, you can actively use these breaks, for example, for a short physical activity unit that takes into account the hygiene and distance rules (e.g. with MoBe)

Collaborative Text Work

Through text documents such as the Leuphana Etherpad, the Moodle-Forum or a LehrWiki (Teaching Wiki), students can simultaneously and on an equal footing make their contributions.

At Leuphana, the annotation tool PDF Annotations is available within Moodle for social reading - the joint, but time-shifted and geographically decoupled reading and discussion of documents. For didactic tips on social reading and how to use the PDF annotation tool in Moodle, see our guide to Social Reading mit Moodle.

Detailed information on other tools that support students' collaborative digital work can be found in our Navigator Gemeinsames Lernen in Online-Umgebungen (Collaborative Learning in Online Environments).

Surveys and Visual Reactions

In Zoom, reaction icons are available for non-verbal communication with the participants via the baseboard or via the participants list. Some icons appear directly in the tile, others are visualised next to the name in the participants list. You can also use Zoom to create surveys, e.g. to start a discussion or to ask for previous knowledge. You can find more information on this in our script Interaktion und Zusammenarbeit mit Zoom (Interaction and Cooperation with Zoom).

Direct audience response systems (Pingo, Mentimeter, etc.) allow you to quickly obtain feedback from your students. To do this, they need a digital device. For more information on the different applications and their fields of use, please visit our website on Audio Response Systemen in der Lehre (audio response systems in teaching).

Panel Discussion With Active Plenum

The interactive method "panel with plenary discussion" is mainly about bringing online and on-site participants together to exchange views on a topic, formulate arguments, listen to them and encourage a change of perspective. To do this, you ask all students to take a position on a specific question either in preparation for the session (e.g. by reading a text) or ad hoc during the session. You could visualise this on a PowerPoint slide or the whiteboard.

Three discussion rounds follow the individual work. All participants, with the exception of the podium guests, switch off their cameras in the first and second round. In the third round all are visible again.

  • In the first round, three selected participants (podium guests) formulate their statements on the question. The selection of the podium guests can be made in advance or ad hoc. You should preferably consider online participants here.
  • In the second round, the three podium guests exchange their views with each other. Here, an open microphone of the podium guests is recommended to enable direct reference.
  • In the third round, the plenum then joins the discussion.

Afterwards, an evaluation can be made in which observations and summaries can be shared among all students.

More Interactive Settings (inspired by Nathalie Pöpel)

Role play: The role players prepare themselves in breakout rooms. During this time they work with the rest of the plenum on observation questions for the scene being played. Then the role play begins in the main meeting room.

Pro/contra discussion: You formulate a question (problem questions, decision questions)/a discussion topic and divide the groups into two parts. The overall group should not be too large. In two breakout rooms the participants prepare for pro or contra. Allocation can be manual or automatic. Participants can also join the breakout rooms they have created on their own and thus choose a group. All participants then present an argument in the main meeting room. Afterwards, all participants can freely exchange their views on the arguments presented.

Working In Small Groups

From digital teaching, you already know the function of breakout rooms, with which you can send online participants to private rooms for a limited period of time, where they can discuss in small groups and solve tasks if necessary. In the seminar room, this often works by sitting together and talking quietly to each other.

As you cannot currently implement these familiar small groups in attendance due to the distance rules, we recommend mixed small groups between online and attendance participants with the support of the breakout rooms for appropriate work phases. For this purpose, each participant in attendance requires his or her own digital device with which to dial into the zoom conference as well as a headset with headphones and microphone. It has proved to be a good idea for all participants to add a note to their name to indicate whether they are present in the room or online (e.g. by prefixing a [P] or [O]). This makes it easier for you as a teacher - or a student co-moderator - to divide the groups.

Once the participants have moved to the breakout room, you should mute the room microphone on your laptop. Please do not switch it on again until you have made sure that none of the students in attendance have activated their own microphone after returning to the main zoom room.

After the group work period, you can ask the students in attendance to report on their work in the breakout room and present the results.


Especially when introducing and testing new formats, continuous feedback during the semester, e.g. after each session, is of great importance. What worked well? Where is there a need for improvement? What is missing and how can those involved support optimal teaching and learning even better?

In addition, as every semester, the qualitative feedback format Shift! and course evaluation is also available. Both are also highly recommended for hybrid event formats.

Further Reading

Bruff, Derek (2020): Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms, [20.10.2020]

Hanke, Ulrike/Bach, Nina/Morath, Bianca (2020): Clevere Methoden für interaktive virtuelle Präsenzkurse. Clever lehren. Band 1, Bad Krozingen. 

Lange, Bernhard (2020): Herausforderungen der Hybriden Lehre, [20.10.2020]

Lerngruppe „Von Analog zu Digital“ MOOCamp 2020 (2020): Von Analog zu Digital – 7x5 interaktive Workshop-Methoden, die auch online begeistern, [20.10.2020]

Pöpel, Nathalie (2020). Didaktisch Arbeiten mit Zoom. Einführung in Grundfunktionen mit didaktischen Beispielen. [20.10.2020].