Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning
Teach Hybrid

Communication in Public Settings Course Site Reflection (David Hoffman)

Artifact Highlights

This website is the gateway to the online portion of my class. I wanted to particularly highlight the structure of the site. There is an active link with a date for every session for which online work is due. That link takes students to a page a number tasks that should be completed before the class date. All the resources needed to complete those tasks—which include online lectures, readings, and blogging assignments—are just one click away from the task list. I believe this arrangement makes knowing what to do and finding the resources to do it as easy and consistent as possible, so students can concentrate on the assignments themselves.

What are the learning goals for this course?

Communication in Public Settings focuses on the kind of communication that take place when people come together to make a decision, engaging in a process that has traditionally been called deliberation.  In the class, we seek to achieve three objectives: 1) We will seek to understand the norms, rules, and procedures that give deliberating groups the best chance of arriving at good decisions in a variety of contexts, from informal discussion among co-workers, to the debates of the US Congress.  We will approach the subject both by studying academic scholarship and research on deliberation, and through the direct experience of various form of deliberation. 2) The course also aims to equip students with the conceptual tools of critical thinking that will promote engagement in public deliberation.  3) Finally, the course will provide opportunities practical experience in constructing and delivering various forms of public communication, and meaningful feedback that can be used to improve performance.

How did you translate this class from the face-to-face version into the hybrid version?

Because this is a communication class, I felt that portions that involved live group activities and presentations in front of an audience needed to remain in the classroom, but the majority of the lectures worked well online. Because blog responses are required for most lectures and readings, I feel that most students actually take the readings and lectures more seriously than in a traditional class. The hybrid format has also provided a good opportunity for students to respond thoughtfully to each other’s work.

What was it like to transition from teaching face-to-face to teaching a hybrid?

The class still meets once a week, so solid in-person teacher-student relationships still developed even while students have greater flexibility to pursue assignments outside the class in a way that fits into their schedules. At first I didn’t know what to do in class with regard to the work students had completed online, but I have found that I can screen responses before class and call on a few students who have done something noteworthy to share what they have written and thus conduct brief, focused discussions in a “flipped” classroom. Students are generally better prepared to respond than in a traditional class because they have written a version of a response in advance. This format is also good for students who are reluctant to participate in traditional classroom discussion because of personality, culture or linguistic barriers. Having prepared a response in advance makes it easier for such students to speak confidently in the classroom.


David Hoffman is an Associate Professor at the Baruch College, CUNY, in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.  He works at the intersection of rhetoric, history and politics. He has published work on classical rhetorical theory, as well as rhetorical criticism of political figures, both historical and contemporary. His work has appeared in such journals as Rhetorica, Rhetoric and Public Affairs, The Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Argumentation, and Rhetoric Society Quarterly. He is a former President of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric.  Professor Hoffman has taught courses in rhetorical theory, persuasion, public advocacy and political speech, and worked to conduct deliberative forums with the Kettering Foundation.  He received his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in 2000.