Hybrid Course Design & Facilitation
Designing courses that have an online component (usually asynchronous, but not always) and a real-time (face-to-face or synchronous online) component into which the instructor divides different kinds of learning opportunities, but also strives to sew the two together, can be challenging, but also quite rewarding. There is much research dedicated to the success of this modality, and some of its champion practitioners have become quite well-known even beyond the scholarship of teaching and learning (see below for links). What's more, students tend to appreciate the flexibility of such a design as well as the engaging practicality of the “hands-on" face-to-face meetings.
One hybrid model, flipped instruction, moves everything that happened historically in-class (presentational/informational content, lectures, quizzes, testing, etc.) outside of class and saves real-time meetings for things that have historically been homework (practice exercises, lab work, etc.) and require everyone to be in the same place at once (group work, role play, debates, discussions, partner work, etc.). In such a model, the instructor's role in the real-time meetings is one more akin to a coach than a grader, providing real-time feedback for improvement and mini-lectures to re-direct the conversation and guide students as they engage in detailed tasks that typically require higher-order thinking.
What Happens Outside of Class and Before We Meet in Real Time?
As you set about planning such a course, think about which aspects of your course will lend themselves best to being done by your students when they are outside of class and on their own time. What presentational/informational content (readings, lecture videos, etc.) can you provide them that will prepare them for a real-time meeting? How can you tie those readings and lecture videos to activities that check for preparation and understanding? Remember to break up lecture videos into small, digestible "chunks" that are seven minutes or less in duration: if you can outline your lecture(s) and probably already present them from multiple slides, you can break them up into smaller parts. How can you use technology in such a way that the things you move outside of class work better there and clear the agenda for more hands-on work in the next synchronous meeting? Did you know that Panopto will allow you to embed quiz questions in your own videos? Are there handouts, outlines, slides, notes, etc., that will be useful for your students to review as preparation? Treat this content as foundational information that will serve your learners well in the next real-time meeting.
What Should We Do During Real-Time Meetings?
Now that your learners have had a basic introduction to the content you are tackling, how can it be put into practice? Take the introduction to that content to the next level in your real-time meeting. Try to begin these meetings with specific mention of something that happened online prior to it in order to validate it and bring it to life. Think of the real-time meeting as more of a discussion space, a lab, a workshop, or an atelier where you are guiding them in higher-order thinking explorations. This is your time for application and guided experimentation with immediate feedback. Point out what your learners are doing right, what they are doing wrong, how to fix it, what to do better next time, and what it all has to do with the course's goals and work in your field. How will this serve them beyond the course (as a scholar, in the work world, etc.)? You may need to pause the hands-on work now and again for some just-in-time mini-lectures to go deeper in a given topic or redirect where necessary. How can what might normally be out-of-class homework (problem sets, drills, lab manual exercises, simulations, etc.) benefit from your presence as your learners practice? Think of using case studies, infographics, discussions, role-play, and debates that need your moderation. Small group and partner work are beneficial here. In situations where social distancing is required, be wary of activities that might require proximity, of course. Even still, in such situations, it is still possible to incorporate debates, role play, the examination and discussion of case studies, work that is otherwise traditionally out-of-class homework, and immediate feedback. Group work may also still be possible if member roles are well defined beforehand (using board work or easel pad sized Post-It sheets, for example). You may find instructional time in an online synchronous setting (in breakout rooms, for example) more appropriate for some of these instead.
After the Meeting: How Can We Bookend This Well?
When you learners move back to the online environment after a real-time meeting, how can you close the loop? What follow-up can they do to demonstrate and reflect on their learning? Reflection assignments and one-minute paper prompts are an excellent way to have them articulate something about what they have learned. This validates the in-class work as well (a strategy to tie things together). It's also time for them to engage with additional presentational/informational content for the next class meeting. Remember to contextualize that new content, if possible, by tying it to what you just did in the prior course segments and articulating how this new content expands the conversation into new areas.
Our institutional subscription to Magna Publications' 20-Minute Mentor Videos includes several on designing and teaching flipped and blended courses. Each video also comes with additional supplemental resources. Relevant titles include (note: direct links to videos will work once you create your account and join):
How Can I Structure a Flipped Lesson?
Learn the structure and find the confidence to flip a lesson in a course you already teach or a new course you are designing. Discover how to integrate flipped lessons into the overall course for a seamless learning experience for your students.
Where Can I Find Flippable Moments in My Classes?
If you have been wanting to flip but don't know where to start or fear you'll do it all wrong, this program is for you. Identify the flippable lessons in any course and determine which parts of your lessons you should actually invest time and energy in flipping.
What are 5 FAQ's About Faculty Roles in the Flipped Class?
This program will give you the confidence you need to start flipping your own courses right away. Discover the answers to the five most common areas of concern for instructors new to flipping.
What Is Blended Learning?
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face classroom instruction with supervised online activities, is one of the hottest topics in higher education today. Blended learning is here to stay. Learn how to take advantage of online technology to better your students' learning experience and improve your instruction. Find out how you can fuse the best of traditional techniques and cutting-edge online technology.
In Blended Courses, What Should Students Do Online?
For instructors interested in exploring blended learning, deciding which course elements to teach face-to-face and which to address through online technology can be a major stumbling block. Learn a framework for making those essential educational judgment calls. Be confident that your selection of which materials to present online and which to present in the classroom will provide the best learning experience for your students.
What Three Things Could I Do to Improve My Blended Course?
Effective blended course design requires faculty to reconsider their role in learning. It calls for rethinking your approach to students, teaching, technology, and your colleagues. Whether you are new to blended learning or a seasoned pro, this program will take your course to the next level by exploring three avenues you can focus on for improvement.
To access these videos, create an account, and affiliate to UHD by using the join link you request from us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional info can be found at the CTLE Magna site. Email Georges Detiveaux at email@example.com for assistance.
OLC & QM Workshops
Remember that we can also connect you with short-duration OLC and QM workshops on these topics. In addition to our covering registration, we also stipend faculty (adjuncts, too!) $150 for each they take with us. Just reach out for a consultation. Some relevant OLC workshop titles include Blended Learning: Applying Best Practices to Course Design and Designing a Flipped Classroom. A suggested QM workshop is Designing Your Blended Course.
Publications (many of which are available at the W.I. Dykes Library in print or eBook format):
Arney, Liz. Go Blended!: A Handbook for Blending Technology in Schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015.
Bowen, José Antonio. Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012.
Caulfield, Jay. How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course: Achieving Student-Centered Learning Through Blended Classroom, Online, and Experiential Activities. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pubs, 2011.
Martín-García, Antonio V (ed). Blended Learning: Convergence between Technology and Pedagogy. New York: Springer, 2020.
Snart, Jason Allen. Hybrid Learning: The Perils and Promise of Blending Online and Face-to-Face Instruction in Higher Education. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2010.