Hybrid Learning and Teaching

alt="Student lying on bed studying her laptop."

Hybrid Learning & Teaching

In hybrid classes, a significant amount of the class time has been moved online. Think about how you can take advantage of new kinds of online tools and activities that enable more in-depth explorations during in-class time.

How Can I Do This?

Hybrid classes have the potential to bring together either the best or the worst of both the online and face-to-face worlds. Your thoughtful coordination will make the difference.

Design your course to focus on the integration between online and in-class activities.

When creating a hybrid course, it is tempting to introduce online work to the traditional syllabus as an add-on. This approach, however, can result in a course that requires too much of students. In order to take full advantage of the rich possibilities of the hybrid format, online and face-to-face portions of the course must be purposefully integrated.

  • Weave together the online and in-person segments of the course so that the purpose of each link in the chain of the course's structure is evident to both you and your students.
  • Decide when students should have “first contact” with a section of course material, online or in-class, and begin building sequences from one format to another.
  • Follow a “close the loop” strategy: anything that is discussed/learned in online activities should be explored during in-class sessions; that way, students can reflect on the entire sequence of their learning.
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Clarify your expectations for both the online and in-class environments.

In the syllabus, give students an introduction to the course format so that they understand the way the course will function. From the very beginning, talk to students about the underlying rationale for the hybrid format of your course and the, possibly different, pattern of course assignments.

  • On the first in-class day, provide an orientation that reviews the online components to help identify potential challenges for students.
  • Pay extra attention to how students will experience the course, providing clear pathways to student support resources outside of class and online.
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Help guide students as they navigate between online and in-class activities.

Given the flexibility of the format, every hybrid course will have its own unique structure. In order to successfully navigate the course and complete assignments, students will need to know how to communicate with you and each other in the two different formats of the course.

  • Create online learning communities through asynchronous discussion forums and in-class learning communities through small group breakouts or think-pair-share activities.
  • Clearly define how you will grade student work in group assignments.
  • M.D. Roblyer and Leticia Ekhaml of the University of West Georgia offer a few suggestions for how to increase interactivity in your hybrid course through the use of rubrics.
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Create collaborative assignments that allow students to work together online and during class.

When designing a hybrid course, it is important to focus more on student interaction than the delivery mode of the course. Create activities that require students to engage in the course content and with each other by sustaining conversations and distributing due dates for assignments throughout the week.

  • Start building student community early.
  • Students can be more successful working together after they first get to know each other.
  • Remember that the socialization process typically progresses faster in an in-class environment.
  • Organize students to work in smaller cohorts and teams; ask them to draft team “charters” so that students know their roles and tasks.
  • Create Team Charters

Why Is This Important?

Hybrid courses can benefit from the convenience and personalization of online work as well as the rich, face-to-face interactions in the classroom. You have the freedom 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.

Increased access to and availability of course materials.

Traditionally, lectures, textbooks, and related course materials are the primary ways in which students gain access to the content of the course. With a hybrid course, you have a much wider range of options from which to choose.

  • Students can often re-watch recorded lectures, repeat exercises, re-read peer discussion comments, and take the time they need to successfully learn the concepts.
  • In-person access to students, on the other hand, allows you to contextualize and explore more deeply any materials used for online instruction.
Broader understanding and deeper exploration of topics and concepts.

By blending online and in-class instruction, you can allow for a more effective use of class time and ensure that more students are participating in meaningful ways across the semester.

  • According to a U.S. Department of Education meta-analysis of online learning strategies, hybrid courses produced better student-learning outcomes than did fully face-to-face courses.
  • Read the Final Report