Learn about hybrid courses

Helpful Information for students about Hybrid courses

1. What is a hybrid course?

Short Answer:

"Hybrid" is a term used to describe courses that combines face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning.

Longer Answer:

  • A significant portion of the learning activities take place online and time spent on instruction that traditionally occurs in the classroom is reduced but not eliminated.
  • This allows the student much more flexible in creating a schedule, while maintaining the face-to-face contact with the instructor and classmates that is typical of a more traditional course.

2How Do Hybrid Classes Work?

Short Answer:

A hybrid course combines online learning with face-to-face instruction. 

Longer Answer:

  • This type of class may meet one, two, three, or four times a week. 
  • It may also have online components found in Canvas, our online learning platform.  However, not all faculty use Canvas.  Your professor will tell you in class what online delivery system they are using.
  • Your professor will have some required assignments that have to be completed online and some that have to be completed in class.  
  • Traditionally:
    • Online assignments cannot be done in the classroom. 
    • Classroom assignments cannot be done online. 
    • Your professor will explain more at the first class meeting

The Class Schedule lists the time and location of the classroom. Your professor will give you instructions for your course at that meeting. 

It looks like this in the schedule. Notice thatit is designated as a Hybrid Course.


ENGL 100                                  Introductory composition

Prerequisite: COMPASS placement or ENGL 081 with a 2.0 grade or better and eligible for READ 104.

3697             DEC           Avis Adams           RLC 175                              MWF                          9:00-9:50a

3. What should I expect in a hybrid course?

Short Answer:

As a student, you can expect that a portion of your instruction and assignments will be presented in an assigned classroom and partly provided online.

Longer Answer:

  • The division of online instructions and days spent in the classroom will vary depending on the course content and the instructor preference. Remember, online assignments cannot be done in the classroom and classroom assignments cannot be done online.
  • Some of the required class work will be done and posted online, and some of the assignments will be done in class and submitted in class.  Your instructor will provide details regarding what class work will be required in class and what work will be required online.
  • Online course materials and learning activities vary from class to class.
  • However, typical Web-based activities may include online discussions, peer review forums, small group work, forums for prewriting strategy posts, PowerPoint lectures, online exercises, audio- or video-lectures and tutorials.
  • Students have the flexibility to choose when and where to complete online assignments as long as they meet the deadlines specified in the class syllabus
  • In addition, students have set days and times for on-campus classes.
  • By learning in both online and face-to-face environments, you can expect to interact with the course content, the instructor, and the students in a variety of ways.

4. FAQs 

1. What are the benefits for students taking a hybrid course?

A survey given by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Learning Technology Center and other universities asked students what they thought about hybrid courses. Students overwhelmingly have reported that they prefer and enjoy the hybrid course format. More specifically, here are the main reasons that students prefer hybrid: [adapted from]

  • Students have greater time flexibility, freedom, and convenience by working part of the time online from home due to decreased commuting and parking hassles.
  • Students are likely to interact more with the instructor and fellow students since there are numerous opportunities to do so both in class and online.
  • Students have access to unlimited up-to-date resources available via the Web.
  • Students often develop or enhance skills in time management, critical thinking, and problem solving.
  • Students enjoy increased success as measured by fewer course withdrawals and somewhat higher grades.
  • Students can participate more in class discussions since they can choose environment -- online or face-to-face -- in which they feel more comfortable.
  • Students have more time to reflect and refer to relevant course and other research materials when working and writing online than when responding in class.
  • Students typically have 24/7 access to online course materials.
  • Students usually receive more feedback, and more frequent feedback, from their instructors.
  • Students can acquire useful skills from using the Internet and computer technology.

2. Will I be working on my own?

  • You may be working both independently and with others, as you interact in both the traditional and "virtual classroom."
  • You will be working closely with the instructor and the students in your class during your on-campus meetings.
  • In addition, you will also be working online, both independently and in some classes with others.
  • You will not be entirely on your own, but you will need good organizational and time-management skills to be successful as a hybrid student.

3. What are the technical requirements to take a hybrid course?

Some online classes have special hardware and software needs. Your professor will tell you about them once you're in the course.

5.  Are Hybrid courses for me?  

  •  Many students say that they learn more in a hybrid course, because they can use outside resources more easily than in a traditional course, but they still have face-to-face access to the instructor and the other students in the course.
  • Almost all students who take hybrid courses appreciate its convenience and flexibility which may help them to adapt to individual work and family schedules.

6Four Questions to Ask Yourself

Before enrolling in a hybrid course, you should ask yourself the following four questions. Be honest with yourself and answer "yes" or "no" to the following questions to find out if hybrid courses are for really for you.

1. Do you have good reading skills and express yourself well in writing? m (Note: writing assignments may not be required in all classes) 

    • You must be able to read others' writing -- both your instructor's and your fellow students' -- and understand what they mean.
    • You may also be required to write clearly and concisely, with few grammatical or spelling errors.
    • You must be able to follow written directions to complete an assignment, and willing to ask questions when you don't understand what to do.
    • In other wordsif you don't read well, you may not be a good candidate as a student in a hybrid course.

2.  Are you comfortable working with computers and using the internet?

    • Being willing and able to work online, and to use computers to complete assignments, is critical.
    • You should own a relatively recent computer, or be willing to use a computer workstation in the College computer laboratories or in the Public Library.
    • You should have a fast (broadband) connection, either through a cable modem, a DSL, or a "hardwired" campus or Public Library computer.
    • You should know enough about computers to be able to upload and download files to your course Web site, search and browse the Web, use email, and interact on a discussion forum. You should also know how to download appropriate plugins if one is needed to read or view a file. Basic computer literacy of this sort is essential in modern College education.
    • You should be able to type (or keyboard) well, and be able to use basic programs such as a word processor. Some courses will require you to know how to use other computer programs such as Excel, PowerPoint, or Photoshop, so you should check out the course syllabus as early as possible to find out whether you will be able to meet the computer requirements.
    • You should develop a backup plan in case your technology fails for one reason or another. Identifying a friend who can help out is a possibility, but you should also know where the nearest campus computer lab is and what its hours of operation are.

3.  Are you good at managing and scheduling your time?

    • You will do at least as much work in a hybrid course as in a regular traditional face-to-face course.
    • Although your use of time is more flexible in a hybrid course, sometimes you will not be able to fit everything in conveniently with your personal schedule, just as in a regular face-to-face course. It's highly advisable to read ahead in the course syllabus to find out when assignments are due and what you will have to do first before you can complete them. This is particularly important if the assignments are online, and require computer access.
    • Since a significant amount of your work in a hybrid course will involve your meeting a specific schedule defined by your instructor, you must be able to complete a specified task on time. Extensions are often not available for assignments, and if you run into a technical problem when you try to complete an assignment at the last minute, you may end up with a lower grade as a result. In other words, if you tend to put things off or try to do things at the last minute, the hybrid may present you with serious difficulties.
    • You must be prepared to schedule some time online several days each week. You should expect to login to the course Web site at least three times a week, and spend at least two to three hours doing online work. If your other responsibilities make this schedule impossible, you probably should not take a hybrid course.

4. Are you willing to take responsibility for your own learning as well as work collaboratively with your classmates and instructor?

    • A typical hybrid courses may place significantly less emphasis on lecturing and exams.
    • This means that you may need to be prepared to do different kinds of work than you would do in a traditional face-to-face course.  
    • The fact that some of the course is online may necessitate you to take more responsibility for your learning than in a traditional face-to-face course.  
    • Finally, you may expect to be involved in small group collaborative work online. Teamwork may be essential to the hybrid, and if you feel that you work better in isolation from others, you may not find some hybrids suitable.  Check the syllabus early in the quarter to find out what the requirements are.

7. Tips for Successful use of discussion forums if your instructor includes them in your clas

Many hybrid courses use discussion forums to engage and sustain a community of active learners outside of the classroom. If your instructor uses discussion forums,these tips focus on good practices when contributing to the forums.

  1. Check the discussion on a regular basis. You should plan to login to your course Web site several times a week, not just once or twice.
    1. It's recommended that you schedule your time in advance each week to login and do course work for at least 2-3 hours. This will help keep you from falling behind.
  2. Make sure that you read and reread your assignment -- print it out for safety's sake -- to ensure that you have completed all aspects of the assignment. It's very easy to overlook something in an online assignment.
    1. If you are posting to a discussion forum, read any earlier postings first if they are available to find out if you are on track, and to find out what others have said.
    2.  It's typically a good idea to address the person you're responding to by name, just as if you were speaking to them face-to-face. It's also a good idea to sign your posting. This will make your online discussion more personal, and remind you to be polite!
    3. It may be ok to disagree with someone depending on your professor's direction for the assignment, as long as you give good reasons for doing so. Remember that people are perfectly entitled to debate both sides of a course idea or topic, and that reasoned argument is an important part of a college education. Your response should never ever attack someone personally. You can disagree with someone, and they with you, while still remaining respectful
  3. After you post to the discussion, copy your post and paste it into a word processor so you can save a copy.  (doing it the other way around is a potential nitemare
    1. No SHOUTING! - Capitalize words only to highlight a point or for titles.
    2. Use care when interacting online, since you don't have the ability to gauge a person's reaction or feelings as you do in a face-to-face conversation. In particular, humor should always be used very carefully and where needed, labeled as such.
    3. Identify your sources if you use quotes, references, or resources. Your work must always be distinctively your own writing, unless you have indicated otherwise.

8. Here's what GRCC students are saying about Hybrid courses:

I loved this class, very accommodating to students who have other responsibilities and obligations.

It allows mandatory time to ask the teacher questions. Also, it makes assignments more clear because it is being explained in person as well. A reminder of due dates is also beneficial.

It makes me more interested because I can communicate through the Internet.

I like the aspect that is online because I get to work on my own time, but I liked that there was still class that as held on campus in case I did not understand something in the course.

It focused what time we did have in class because it made that time more valuable. Also, it promotes independent study, which is important for any student.

The assignments are online so I did not have to stress about forgetting an assignment at home.

Clear online instructions, posted lectures, feedback from students and professor, due dates posted ahead of time.

I think that it worked well when we discussed in class what was happening online.

The convenience of doing all the work without the class time.

 Meeting the teacher to discuss questions a few times was very helpful. I prefer hybrid classes rather than online classes because if I get confused about the material, I get immediate help.

The lectures, being able to pause and view whenever we saw fit.

We wish to express our thanks to our colleagues at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee for generously allowing us to share their work with you.  Visit them here