Tips for Designing an Effective Hybrid Course
Why choose between in-person and online learning when you can have both? Many instructors have discovered that a hybrid model gives them the flexibility to think strategically about which format best guides students toward each learning objective. Before you begin planning your next class, review our list of tips for designing an effective hybrid course:
Lead with your learning objectives.
In any effective course, form should follow function—the goal is not merely to use every technology available but to leverage these tools to put your learning goals front and center. Your first step will be to define what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course. Once this is outlined, you are ready to think through how the hybrid model can serve your purposes.
Integrate your online elements and face-to-face instruction.
With some advance planning, educators can set up the flow of their course so that the in-person and online elements build upon and complement each other. By gearing your online elements toward independent learning, such as listening to lectures or taking exams, you can reserve your class time to assess what students have learned and help them apply it by asking students to prepare mini-lectures, answer polls to test basic knowledge, or review case studies. Consider whether new topics are best introduced in person or by providing materials to students online.
Set expectations for the different learning environments.
Do you expect students to watch lectures and review other materials online so they can come to the next in-person class ready to discuss and apply that content? Do you plan to post a discussion question online after each class to test students’ comprehension? Should students follow a format when responding to a discussion board prompt rather than replying informally as they would do in person? Outlining the purpose of each course element in advance can alleviate confusion for students.
Test your tech to fit in-person and remote needs.
Hybrid classes often offer the option for students to attend in-person class sessions via videoconference. This setup makes it especially important to test your technology setup. Difficulty hearing or seeing the speaker or audio feedback loops can prevent remote students from engaging and require them to interrupt the class to address a problem. Sometimes these issues can be detected and eliminated by doing a tech run-through before the beginning of each class.
If you have a combined in-person and remote classroom, you will want to plan out the format for group discussions. If the entire class is engaging in one conversation, consider how to create space for in-person and remote students to get equal airtime. If you do small breakout groups, remember that your remote students may have different needs, such as a set time to end the discussion since they cannot rely on reading the room.
Use an EdTech tool that provides the structure you need.
A hybrid class model can give you the best of both worlds, but it also requires a high level of intentionality to ensure students can move seamlessly between these two different modes. Features like an easy-to-use calendar, online discussion and messaging, and the ability to quickly find materials and upload videos can be major timesavers and stress relievers for both instructors and students.