Blended & Hybrid Learning

What is a Hybrid Course?

  • A hybrid course delivers instruction and learning activities in both face-to-face and online modalities.
  • Expect that instructions and assignments will be partly presented in the classroom and partly online.
  • The percentage or division of online and classroom learning for each hybrid course will vary depending on the course content and the faculty preference.
  • Hybrid courses take advantage of the best features on both face-to-face and online learning, creating the “best of both worlds” within a single course.

Benefits of Hybrid Learning

Hybrid learning has benefits for students and faculty (WLAC, 2020).

Benefits for students:

  • Alternative Materials. Students are provided with meaningful alternative content and activities to participate, practice, and be assessed.
  • Equivalency: Students are provided with learning activities in all participation modes which lead to equivalent learning outcomes.
  • Digital Content. Lectures, textbooks, and other related course content in which students gain access to the content of the course are made available online.
  • Review. Students can re-watch recorded lectures, spend more time on practice exercises, re-read peer discussion comments, and take the time they need to successfully complete assignments within the semester.
  • Reflection. Students have more time to reflect when working and writing online than when responding in class.

Benefits for faculty:

  • Personalization. Faculty can determine the level of personalization of online work as well as the rich, face-to-face interactions in the classroom.
  • Flexibility. Faculty are free to determine how much time should be spent in each mode, and what instructional activities should be online or in-class depending on the course goals and available resources.
  • Reusability. Faculty can re-use digitized content and materials as “learning objects” in the current and future iterations of the course.

Designing a Hybrid Course

  • Focus on course design, not technology. Re-examine course objectives and consider how they can best be achieved in the hybrid environment.
  • Capitalize on each modality. Plan learning activities that capitalize on the strengths of online and face-to-face learning environments.
    • Face-to-Face: Best for problem-solving, performance-based demonstrations, individual presentations, and coaching.
    • Online: Best for information acquisition, drill and practice, quizzes, project development, peer reviews, and discussions.
  • Integrate online and face-to-face course elements. Connect what occurs in class with what is studied online to avoid the feeling of two fragmented courses. Your thoughtful planning of how students shift between online and face-to-face activities will make a difference.

  • Avoid the “course and a half” phenomenon. Don’t overload the course. Hybrid learning is not about “adding” online activities to a traditional face-to-face course. Carefully consider what parts of the learning should occur in person and which can occur online on the learner’s own time.
  • Create a hybrid course schedule. Calculate the workload by making a schedule for in-class and online work. (Tip: Online activities take twice as longer than you think.)
  • Explain the hybrid format in the syllabus. Modify your syllabus to include an introduction to your new class format. Help students understand your course structure and flow. Rationalize why you chose certain elements to be face-to-face mode and online. Define clear expectations for student work and interactions in both modalities.

Facilitating a Hybrid Course

  • Adhere to social distancing in class. During the COVID-19 pandemic, enforce safety policies. Plan for individual learning activities that necessitate the use of classroom/lab tools.
  • Provide detailed assignment instructions. Write detailed instructions for ALL assignments in face-to-face and online modes. Instructions should “self-teach” and stand-alone that any students can likely perform the tasks required independently.
  • Be “present” online. Relationships matter. Checking in on how students are doing is critical during this challenging time. It’s important to check in every week through offline and real-time conversations. Send weekly announcements, monitor course activity, and move discussions forward when it stalls or gets off track. Hold online office hours when needed.
  • Facilitate online engagement and interactions. Provide opportunities for student interactions in the online environment.
  • Ensure students know their progress. Regularly provide feedback and clearly articulate criteria for success. Collect assessment data on students’ growth.
  • Consider “mode neutral.” Mode neutral is in the similar spirit of Universal Design for Learning in that it promotes flexible options for learners to interact with the content, be engaged, and assessed. This approach is applicable to the design of any course, in any modality (OLC, 2020).

Developing Hybrid Course Components

  • Digital Content
    You may use these to find quality, free resources for your course:
    • OER Commons: OER Commons is a public digital library of open educational resources. Explore, create, and collaborate with educators around the world to improve curriculum.
    • J. Murrey Atkins Library Alternative Textbooks Home: Simultaneously search OER repositories, including Merlot, OAOpen, OER Commons, OpenStax, Open Textbook Library, World Digital Library, American Memory, DPLA, DOAB, HathiTrust, and more.
  • Digital Video
    Video is very popular in online and hybrid courses. You may use these tools to either find existing videos or to create your own:
  • Canvas Tools
  • Synchronous Learning Tools
    • Zoom – Video Conferencing: This will allow you to have face-to-face style interaction via video. You can also use breakout rooms, a whiteboard, and a chat feature for seamless engagement.
    • Poll Everywhere – Live Polling: This tool will allow you to ask questions, receive student feedback, and increase class engagement