Helpful information about hybrid courses - faculty

This information on hybrid courses is geared toward both full-time and adjunct faculty members interested in learning more about them. In this section, you can learn more about some of the general impressions Green River faculty members have had in teaching hybrid courses as well as important challenges to consider.Relevant information which discusses hybrid course design is also available. To aid in constructing these courses, we have included some sources that demonstrate what various hybrid courses can look like.  Finally, because the hybrid course format is rapidly becoming a popular class design at many academic institutions, there is a section on current scholarship that supports the effectiveness and relevance of the hybrid course model in academia today. These articles provide general overviews of the hybrid instructional format, discuss the benefits of hybrid courses, elaborate on design issues, share important lessons that experienced instructors have learned, and report on faculty development issues.

Testimonials from Green River faculty

"I am currently teaching a hybrid course for the first time using a 'flipped classroom' model, and it's going well. Students read the textbook, watch supplemental videos, and attempt the homework online before we meet for our once a week in-class group activity. During our class time, the students support each other, and I am also there clarifying difficult topics and facilitating the activity. Students then are prepared to finish the homework and quizzes online."

“I don’t like classes that meet every day—it seems to be better if students have a day or two in between in order to digest information. One can get more meaningful discussion and questions if students have the opportunity to engage with the material on their own terms before tackling it in class or with the instructor.”

“I do think that hybrid classes have a lot of potential if planned correctly, though I do not think that all classes should automatically become hybridized. I think departments should consider whether or not classes would benefit from moving content to a hybrid or completely online format.”

“[A hybrid course] offers more choices for students, can save classroom space, and might offer more flexibility for faculty who commute long distances to campus.”

“[The hybrid course] mimics real life where work can often be completed at home by mature students who do the coursework in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. Not everything done in a class has to be done in a class. Students need the opportunity to prove themselves as independent, accountable learners. Psychologically, they enjoy having the managed coursework that can be done on their time at their home or ideal location. Pedagogical research is another reason [this class format is effective]: it works.”

“It teaches independent learning and helps students deal with real world skills.”

“Overall, I find the quality of work and level of discussion in class meetings are elevated in these classes.”

“With careful planning, a hybrid class can really delve deeper into the topics since the lecture time can be used to explain in detail what the students have already done. The students can spend their time asking more critical questions.”

“Hybrid classes are the best of both worlds: face-to-face and online. This is significant since it fosters a discursive community within the physical classroom while emphasizing important skills that promote techno-literacy for the 21st century.”

Challenges to Consider

While there are great advantages in teaching a hybrid course, doing so can sometimes be challenging, since it requires redesigning a course to take into account the teaching and learning opportunities of online and face-to-face classes, managing the course content both online and in-class, and preparing students to work in a hybrid format. Here are some important elements to consider as you move towards the hybrid course format:

Course Design To teach a successful hybrid course, instructors design online and in class learning activities to meet course goals and objectives, and effectively integrate the online activities with the face-to face meetings.

Adopting a Hybrid Approach to Teaching Instructors need to facilitate online learning and assessment. Separate graded assignments need to be developed for the online and in class portions of the course. Assessments can be done in class, online or in both modalities at the professor’s discretion. Students need to be clear on which assignments/assessments are done in which modality. If assigned online, they can’t be done in class and vice versa.

Managing the Dual Learning Environment Activities, graded assignments and assessments need to be developed for each modality. Students have to be clear on what has to be done where. They need to know that an online assignment cannot be done in class and vice versa.

Preparing Students Instructors must be prepared to help students understand their active role in the hybrid, assist students in keeping their work on time and on track, and be prepared to offer strategies for trouble-shooting course technologies as one would in an online class. It isn’t necessary to be able to troubleshoot technology yourself but you should know to whom to refer a student for technical help.

Important Tips on Designing a Hybrid Course

Tip 1: Don't rush through the process

  • Start early - 3-6 months in advance - and produce actual learning modules that meet specific learning goals and are relatively easy to manage and grade.  Isn't this true of any new class you are teaching?
  • Redesign is an incremental process. Try not to include too many new activities at first. Start small and you can build it one step at a time.
  • Attempt to keep the total number of assignments/assessments similar to the number you would use in a face-to-face or online class.

Tip 2: Focus on design, not technology

  • Critically re-examine course goals and objectives to see how they can best be achieved in the hybrid environment.   For example, which goals or objectives would be better accomplished in class or online?
  • Develop learning activities that capitalize on the strengths of the online and face-to-face learning environments.  
  • If you haven't taught online, be careful not to overload the course. Online activities take longer than you think they will.
  • Focus on the integration of the online and face-to-face components. Connecting what occurs in class with what is studied online is critical so instructors do not end up teaching two parallel but unconnected courses.
  • Review the examples of hybrid courses available through this site to think about different schedules for in-class/online work, and the implications of those different schedules for the learning activities you have planned.
  • Create specific assignments for the online and in class sections of the course that cannot be completed in the other modality.

Tip 3: Use the resources already available

Tip 4: Seek advice from colleagues

  • Talk with and get advice and feedback from experienced hybrid course instructors.
  • Make use of Green River resources such as the Teaching and Learning Center, faculty development, eLearning, etc.
  • Use the Quality Matters Rubric when designing your course

Tip 5: Manage your students' expectations

  • Explain the hybrid course format and assignments clearly and repeatedly.
  • Make sure that students understand the difference between the amount of work in a traditional class and in a hybrid class.   They will have to work at home in a hybrid class.
  • Make all assignments and other course expectations as explicit as possible right from the start. In particular, make sure that the schedule of in-class and online work is clear to the students, and that due dates are stated explicitly and repeatedly.
  • Make sure students understand they can't do the online assignments in class nor can they do the in class assignments online.

Tip 6: Prepare for anticipated problems (many are similar to problems found in any class)

  • Provide time management tips for students.
  • Be very clear about what students are expected to do, and how you will grade them.
  • Prepare technology help sheets.  Or be prepared to refer students to the appropriate place for technology help.
  • Canvas down time is less than 1% annually.  It's really rare for it to be down for more than a couple of hours.  Have a policy for technology outages due to lost internet connections, power outages and the like.

Tip 7: The little things count!

  • As in any class, things will occasionally go wrong; plan carefully and be flexible about making adjustments where needed.   
  • Ask for feedback from your students often and take their responses seriously.
  •  As in any class, you should leave room for any adjustments that you think necessary.  What you are willing to be flexible on should be described in your syllabus.
  • Be aware that you too will have to work online and in class.  Online assignments will need to be graded online.

Hybrid course samples

To help get you started with your hybrid course, we've included some sample materials including course syllabi.  We'll add more as time goes on.  These models demonstrate how professors have both articulated and designed their hybrid course.


Overview of the Hybrid Instructional Model

Bonk, C. & Graham, C. (2005). Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing.

Bonk, C., Kim, K. J., & Zeng, T. (2006). Future directions of blended learning in higher education and workplace settings. In C. Bonk & C. Graham (Eds.), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives local designs (pp. 550-567). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Dziuban, C., Hartman, J., & Moskal, P. (2004, March 30). Blended learning. EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research Research Bulletin.

Garnham, C., & Kaleta, R. (2002, March). Introduction to hybrid courses. Teaching with Technology Today, 8 (10).

Graham, C. R. (2005). Blended learning systems: Definition, current trends, and future directions. In C. J. Bonk & C. R. Graham (Eds.). Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs (pp. 3-21). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing.

Young, J.R. (2002, March 22). 'Hybrid' teaching seeks to end the divide between traditional and online instruction. Chronicle of Higher Education, 48(28), A33-34.

 Benefits of Hybrid Courses

Hensley, G. (2005). Creating a hybrid college course: Instructional design notes and recommendations for beginners. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.

Martyn, M. (2003). The hybrid online model: Good practice. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 26 (1), 18-23.

Riffell, S.K., & Sibley, D.F. (2004). Can hybrid course formats increase attendance in undergraduate environmental science courses? Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 33, 1-5.

Spilka, R., (2002, March). Approximately "real world" learning with the hybrid model. Teaching with Technology Today, 8 (6).

Reasons, Saxon G., Valadares, Kevin, & Slavkin, Michael. (2005). Questioning the hybrid model: Student outcomes in different course formats.  Journal of Asynchronous Learning, 9(1), 83-94.

Rovai, A.P., & Jordan, H.M. (2004). Blended learning and sense of community: A comparative analysis with traditional and fully online graduate courses.International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

Utts, J., Sommer, B., Acredolo, C., Maher, W. M., & Matthews R. H. (2003). A study comparing traditional and hybrid internet-based instruction in introductory statistics classes. Journal of Statistics, 11(3), n.p.

Hybrid Instructional Design Issues

Ausburn, L.J. (2004). Course design elements most valued by adult learners in blended online education environments: An American perspective. Educational Media International, 41(4), 327-337.

Christensen, T.K. (2003). Finding the balance: Constructivist pedagogy in a blended course. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 4(3), 235-243.

Cox, G., Carr, T., & Hall, M. (2004). Evaluating the use of synchronous communication in two blended courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20, 183-193.

Hensley, G. (2005)). Creating a hybrid college course: Instruction design notes and recommendations for beginners. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 1(2).

Kerres, M., & De Witt, C. (2003). A didactical framework for the design of blended learning arrangements. Journal of Educational Media. 28 (2-3), 101-113.

Skibba, K. A. (2006, March). A cross-case analysis of how faculty connect learning in a hybrid courses. Proceedings of 47th Annual Adult Education Research Conference. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lessons Learned

Aycock, A., Garnham, C., & Kaleta, R. (2002, March). Lessons learned from the hybrid course project. Teaching with Technology Today, 8(6).

Dziuban, C., Hartman, J., Moskal, P., Sorg, S., & Truman, B. (2003). Three ALN modalities: An institutional perspective. In J. Bourne & J.C. Moore (Eds.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Into the Mainstream (pp. 127-148). Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education.

Dziuban, C.D., Moskal, P. D., Hartman, J. (2005). Higher education, blended learning, and the generations: Knowledge is power: No more. In J. Bourne & J.C. Moore (Eds.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities. Needham, MA: Sloan Center for Online Education.

Hybrid Faculty Development

Humbert, J. & Vignare, K. (2005). RIT introduces blended learning-successfully! In J. C. Moore (ed.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities, Wisdom from the Sloan Consortium, Volume 2 in the Wisdom Series. Needham, MA: Sloan-Center for Online Education.

Otte, G. (2005). Using blended learning to drive faculty development (and vice versa). In J. Bourne & J. Moore (Eds.), Elements of quality online education: Engaging communities (pp. 71-83). Needham, MA: Sloan-Center for Online Education.

King, K. (2002). Identifying success in online teacher education and professional development. Internet and Higher Education, 5, 231-246.


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