About Hybrid Learning
What Is Hybrid Learning?
Hybrid learning takes advantage of the best features of online learning and face-to-face instruction to create flexible, responsive, supportive, and engaging courses.
Hybrid courses reduce the number of hours they would typically meet face-to-face during a week in order to use that instructional time for online content and activities that students can access at times and places they control. For instance, a hybrid course may meet for 50 minutes on Mondays, and Wednesdays, then have the equivalent of a 50-minute experience they must complete between Wednesday and Sunday. A hybrid course could also meet on Thursdays only for 75 minutes, or it could use a Saturday seminar model, with intensive, four-hour sessions once a month throughout the term (more commonly used for upper-division or graduate courses).
In addition, the online and face-to-face learning activities are fully integrated, providing opportunities for students to interleave content as they alternate between learning by doing, applying, and collaborating face-to-face, and learning by reading, viewing, quizzing, practicing, and simulating online.
Why Design a Hybrid Course?
Today's learners have complex schedules but maintain a desire for social learning. GenZ and non-traditional learners alike enjoy a combination of online and face-to-face experiences to help them balance convenience with in-person community and support.
- Students who need to arrange their schedules to avoid daily commutes can use hybrid courses to help them meet their scheduling needs without losing touch with their peers and their instructors.
- Students who don't learn well by listening and taking notes can do their "listening" using a range of multimedia formats that they can read and view on their own schedule in a setting that works best for them.
- Just like we complain about meetings that could be accomplished with an email or a survey, there are some parts of the learning process that simply don't require 20-40 people to come to a particular location and spend their time together. Hybrid design lets instructors and students off-load some less social activities to make the absolute best use of our time together.
- Hybrid courses can be much more intentional about the social elements of learning. Since hybrid courses can move some logistical tasks online, instructors are not spending time collecting or distributing paper, pointing at pages in a textbook, or doing generally asocial activities while everyone is gathered face-to-face. Instead, class time is spent getting to know each other and sharing ideas, working together to build projects or new lines of inquiry, and using shared time more fully and more productively.
Overall, hybrid courses let us tap into the strategies we know work best for learning in all different ways for all different people, and we can use more of those strategies throughout the course in order to reach the greatest number of students and make the greatest learning gains.
Course Design Considerations
Hybrid courses require far more than a schedule redesign or replacing a class lecture with an extra reading or problem set from the textbook. To be fully effective, hybrid courses need to apply evidence-based principles of learning to ensure that students understand how and why the online portion of the course relates to the face-to-face portion.
Effective hybrid courses do not allow students to learn in massed blocks--one concept one day, next concept next day, next concept next day, then quiz. Instead, hybrid course design requires instructors to spiral through concepts creating opportunities for students to learn in one way at one level online then another way at another level face-to-face.
For instance, students may learn key definitions, formulas, concepts, basic skills, or similar knowledge-based content online. They may watch a video created by the instructor then complete an embedded quiz. Or read a case study, watch an external video, read the instructor's study guide, then respond to a discussion board to identify concepts or compare solutions or situations. Alternatively, they may use the online day for tasks that require time for reflection and spacing of learning, such as peer review of their classmates' writing, guided research-based assignments, or collaborative original multimedia creations, like podcasts, digital storytelling, or videos.
In class, with the live support from the instructor, students might need to create a group solution to a far more complex problem than those provided in the textbook, or they might test out the application of two different theories from earlier in the course in a real-world context. They might work in groups or teams on an extended project that requires the application of many course concepts over time. Or they may simply discuss and reflect on their learning together, so they can gain the benefits of hearing multiple perspectives.
Hybrid course design requires identifying which learning activities can be best accomplished online and which can benefit from the live, social presence of the face-to-face classroom. Then, instructors must map those activities intentionally to order the experiences in a way that leads students to achieve their desired learning outcomes.
- The University of Central Florida Blendkit Course offers an asynchronous professional development course, including readings, DIY Tasks, learning activities, as well as links to elements of the UCF Blended Learning Toolkit.
- The College of DuPage Introduction to Hybrid Teaching workbook provides a step-by-step guide to designing a hybrid course.
- USC Upstate's hybrid adaptation of the Open SUNY Course Quality Rubric (OSCQR), a scorecard for evaluating your hybrid course design. You must sign in with your USC Upstate email username and password to access the file.
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