What is Hybrid Teaching and Learning?
Whether or not they think of this as “hybrid teaching,” most educators have their students do scholarly work between course meetings, such as preparing notes, completing a set of problems, drafting an essay, or reflecting on a previous project. Often this work uses digital technologies. This student work then becomes the focus of the next face-to-face (f2f) meeting (e.g. by having students take an exam, self-assess their work, give and receive feedback, conduct lab experiments, or revise their writing). While some might call these activities “homework” or “studying,” all educators recognize that well-thought out and structured learning outside the classroom can enhance the f2f experience and free up class time educators can use to provide feedback, facilitate conversations, point to resources, and model the kind disciplinary inquiry they are asking students to engage with. In short, the f2f experience better supports learning when educators provide well-designed lessons for students outside of the classroom.
If this is part of your practice, you are already engaged in the work of “hybrid” teaching and learning.
To be clear, hybrid teaching and learning:
- Includes online interaction among learners and between instructor and learners
- Has significant instructor presence online throughout the course
- Devotes significant classroom time to discussion and interaction between learners and instructor
- Engages students in learning activities both online and in the classroom
- Explicitly integrates online content and activities with in-class content and/or activities
Because “hybrid” courses substitute online work for some amount of f2f time, explicit, designed hybrid teaching and learning asks educators to be even more attuned to the work they provide students outside of the classroom. Kathryn Linder writes:
Hybrid pedagogy is a method of teaching that utilizes technology to create a variety of learning environments for students. Instructors who employ hybrid pedagogies intentionally incorporate technology tools both to enhance student learning and to respond to a wide range of learning preferences. In hybrid classroom settings, face-to-face activities are often combined with technology-mediated activities so that there is more active learning in the face-to-face setting as well as more intentional guidance when students are learning outside the classroom. (11)
Consequently, the shift to hybrid teaching and learning requires being more mindful of the “way[s] that instructors can ensure that students are engaged with the course content by incorporating online learning communities, synchronous and asynchronous discussion, and a variety of online collaboration methods that encourage students to interact with the course materials, their instructors, and their peers in a variety of ways” (Linder 12). Thinking in terms of hybrid teaching and learning can open the opportunity for creativity regarding how to use our resources to best support our students’ engagement with the content, ourselves, and one another.
At the same time, as members of the university community living through a pandemic, we are challenged to think creatively about how to use our teaching resources to support student learning. Hybrid teaching and learning, may be, depending on the context, one option to minimize risk and support learning, while still helping students benefit from key campus community resources. This short document is meant to help educators make the transition to hybrid teaching and learning. To help you imagine and design your hybrid course, we’ll provide a series of hybrid teaching “dos” and “don'ts” before supplying some examples from educators across MSU. The bibliography at the end of this document will also provide you with some additional resources to help you plan and design your course.
Hybrid Teaching and Learning “Dos”
The following list is meant to provide you with a few starting points to help you plan your hybrid course. As you plan...
- Do have clearly defined learning objectives (“After the completion of this course, students will be able to…”) and projects/tasks and assessments that move students towards the learning objectives.
- Do choose course technologies that help you and your students achieve those learning objectives.
- Do scaffold your tasks, assignments, and projects. This means breaking down larger projects into smaller tasks while providing formative feedback and explaining how the smaller parts build towards the larger project. Students need and want to know why they are engaging in some task, as well as how they are doing as they complete the tasks. This will also help you to make decisions about what to do in an online space and in your face-to-face meetings.
- Do give time for students to learn how to use and interact with your course technologies.
- Do use your face to face meetings to practice, provide feedback, encourage collaboration among students, reflect on learning, and/or foster discussion.
- Do consider your students’ prior knowledge and experience, as well as the resources your students have available in their local learning context, such as their home, neighborhood, or community.
Hybrid Teaching and Learning “Don’ts”
The following list reflects a common set of concerns for faculty and educators as they design their hybrid courses. As you plan...
- Don’t forget there are people on the other side of the technology.
- Don’t forget to build community among students.
- Don’t spend too much time worrying about the percentage of work done online versus face-to-face (even in f2f courses, the bulk of learning can--and often does--take place outside of the classroom). Learning objectives should guide the way:
- What do I want my student to learn?
- How will I know when students meet the learning objectives?
- What activities, projects, tasks, etc. will help my students achieve those learning objectives?
- Which of those activities, projects, tasks, should be done in a f2f setting? Why?
- Which of those activities, projects, tasks, should be done in an online setting? Why?
- Don’t approach course design as though you’re simply “transitioning” some f2f components into an online environment. Rather, understand that the online component of a hybrid course deserves its own theorization and attention, as it will only increase the power of the f2f meetings. In short, well-thought out online learning can make the f2f meetings more focused on practice, feedback, revision, and active learning.
- Don’t forget about accessibility and ensuring your students have access to course materials.
Models of Hybrid Courses
The following list provides a set of models from MSU faculty across the disciplines. More examples will be added in the near future:
- A first-year writing course from the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
- A sophomore and junior-level biomedical laboratory science course
- A first-year general chemistry lab course in Lyman Briggs College
- A series of Russian language courses
- Sophomore level course for students with an interest in Communicative Sciences and Disorders, including the minor in CSD.
Resources and Further Reading
- Michigan State University - Community D2L site for experiential learning
- Hybrid Learning Consortium
- University of Central Florida - Blended Learning Toolkit (or BlendKit)
- Cornell - Getting Starting with Designing Hybrid Courses Online
- Penn State U - What is Hybrid Learning?
- University of Texas - Hybrid Learning and Teaching
- Northeastern University - 5 Reasons Hybrid Learning May be Right for You
- A11Y Project
PDFs, Design Resources, and Articles
- Jay McTighe and Giselle O. Martin-Kniep - Seven Strategies for Supporting Student Learning in a Remote Environment
- Jay McTighe and Ronald S. Thomas - Backwards Design for Forward Action
- Kathryn E. Linder - Blended Course Design Workbook (contains useful worksheets for designing your hybrid learning course).
- James Lang and Flower Darby - Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes
- Angelo, T. A. A “Teacher’s Dozen”: Fourteen General, Research-based Principles for Improving Higher Learning in Our Classrooms.” AAHE Bulletin, 45(8), 3-13.
- Banditvilai C. “Enhancing Students’ Language Skills through Blended Learning.” The Electronic Journal of e-Learning 14(3), 220-229.
Marisa Brandt (Lyman Briggs), Michael Ristich (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures), Amy Ward (Human Medicine), and Arthur Ward (Lyman Briggs)
Contributors: Rachel Barnard (Lyman Briggs), Rachel Morris (Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics), Shannon Donnally Spasova (Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic, Asian and African Languages), Lisa Kopf (University of Northern Iowa, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders)