Last spring, 20 religious educators experienced continuing education that blended online and in-person learning in the first ever "hybrid" Renaissance module, co-led by Pat Infante and Gabrielle Farrell.
The module topic was UU Adult Faith Development. The experiment was a rousing success, offering the best of both worlds. Webinars allowed for unhurried preparation time as well as time for reflection and processing between sessions. The in-person day provided face-to-face support and collaboration with colleagues, including the presentation of final projects, hallmarks of the traditional, in-person Renaissance module.
Infante, the Regional Consultant for Faith Development for the UUA Central East Regional Group (CERG), collaborated with the UUA Renaissance Office on the structure of the hybrid—which portions would be held via webinar and which would be covered in the one-day, in-person session. She and Farrell, Lifespan Religious Educator at River Road Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation in Bethesda, MD led five 90-minute webinars from January through March, culminating in a full day workshop at Cedar Lane UU Church in Bethesda. Because a large number of participants signed up, each webinar was offered twice for two online groups of ten people. Then, all participants joined together for the in-person session.
Comments from participants were enthusiastic, for example:
- I experienced a model of combining online and face-to-face education which may be useful in my congregation; I’m inspired to explore hybrid models for adult faith development classes.
- This format of the webinar and one in-person session is definitely a good idea. I appreciate that it was offered because the lower cost allowed me to be able to take the class which I very much wanted to take.
- I thought there was a good balance between webinar sessions and in-person meeting time. The webinar sessions offered time to absorb the reading and other materials, while the in-person time offered a wonderful opportunity to connect and focus on ways to use ideas we discussed during the module.
- I would like to take more classes like this.
If you would like to sponsor a hybrid Renaissance module in your area, contact Pat Kahn in the Renaissance Office at email@example.com to discuss the possibilities.