The post-pandemic education landscape is still uncertain, but it will likely include a mix of online and face-to-face learning. While these more traditional methods will be common, a third course delivery type continues to emerge. Hybrid courses combine in-person and remote learning and are becoming increasingly popular because they aim to make education more accessible and engaging.
In the first two parts of this series on education beyond the pandemic, we look at the more traditional course formats: successful online learning and successful in-person learning. In this, part three, we focus on designing and teaching hybrid courses that facilitate student success.
Designing a hybrid course
As University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence observes, course design is important for successful hybrid teaching. When designing a course,
- Communicate the learning outcomes and course schedule. Align learning outcomes, activities, and assessments. Share these expectations with students, alongside a schedule. Time management is key to success, and students need to know expectations and deadlines.
- Create an experience where online and in-person activities complement each other. Try not to think of hybrid courses as online courses with an in-person element (or vice versa). Design activities that facilitate effective learning in the delivery system being used.
- Plan interactions, activities, and assessments that support desired outcomes. Vary interactions and activities, and provide prompt feedback to ensure students understand and retain concepts. Use technology, such as Crowdmark, to speed up the feedback process.
As with any course design, following the techniques above will take some planning. Though the approach of outlining outcomes and mapping class activities is a good practice for any course design, knowing what activities are uniquely effective online versus in person can be challenging. There are a few things that can be considered when planning for success.
Planning for delivery method: Online or in-class?
With hybrid classes, instructors can benefit from online class advantages and face-to-face class advantages. To do so, you will want to take note of some recommendations that Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation has for ensuring the delivery method enhances the learning experience.
Activities that are inherently digital or that do not require human interaction are often a good choice for online delivery. Watching videos, reading, and completing online quizzes are prime examples.
Individual activities can be enhanced with online forum discussions about topics of interest or key learnings from online materials. Additionally, collaborative learning activities, such as creating a glossary using a wiki, can pull students into online interaction. The option for asynchronous participation via forum or wiki allows students to take time for reflection before responding to prompts.
Online time does not need to stay in the virtual world, though. Take advantage of the interactive and conversational nature of the in-person experience by bringing online discussions into the classroom. Select one or two contentious or popular online topics for in-person discussion.
Hybrid courses allow instructors to spend less face-to-face course time lecturing and more time on active learning. Here are some examples of active learning:
- Writing brief responses to in-class discussion prompts
- Answering questions in teams or pairs
- Discussing concepts or notes with a classmate
In-class time is best devoted to problem-solving, group work, case studies, and presentations because these activities can be more engaging in person. Focus in-person classes on communication and learning through shared ideas and interaction.
Remember to close the loop on online and face-to-face learning. Create forums to continue in-person discussion, and share in-person presentation slides online. The more in-class and online activities complement each other, the better.