Hybrid Courses: Getting into the Technology Pool One Step at a Time

If the advances in technology have you a little intimidated in the field of learning and training, you are not alone.  Many companies, students, and Universities are sensitive to resistance of complete distance learning with an e-learning platform.  The answer for those seeking to try the technology-based learning without committing fulling to the online experience is the development of the hybrid course.  Hybrid courses are courses that combine face-to-face classroom time with online learning activities that are designed to complement each other.

Hybrid courses contain three key points:  (1) Web-based learning activities are introduced to complement face-to-face work; (2) “seat-time” is reduced, though not eliminated altogether; (3) the Web-based and face-to-face components of the course are designed to interact pedagogically to take advantage of the best features of each. (Hybrid Courses)

Hybrid classes are designed for students that are looking to combine in-line classes with on-line activities.  They also provide students that have a full schedule with family, work, and other classes with the ability to take additional classes by eliminating travel time and on-campus time.  They also provide students that prefer an on-line environment with the opportunity to take advantage of some face-to-face interaction.  Where are hybrid classes offered?  How are they perceived by teachers and students?  Are they superior to traditional classes?

Hybrid classes are offered across the country at various universities including: the University of Central Florida, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, and Bakersfield College.  Although these schools offer hybrid courses, the subject are very diverse, supporting an idea that most courses can be designed as a hybrid course.  The University of Central Florida offers more than one hundred hybrid courses to help assist with the overpopulation of the institution; some of those classes include: U.S. Space History, Assembling Digital Media, and Composition I.  The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers a number of different classes including: Advanced Nursing Practice Interventions, Cross-Culture Study of Religion, Survey American Literature, and Management Analysis.  The University of Arizona also offers a variety of classes such as Instructional Leadership.  Bakersfield College offers hybrid courses in multiple levels of mathematics.  Brigham Young University also offers hybrid courses, however their course structure differs from the other universities mentioned. At BYU, “Hybridization occurs when on-campus educators adopt distance education technologies and practices, and when distance education organizations adopt/adapt campus-based educational practices.”(Hybrid Learning)   With so many opportunities to experience a hybrid class, how are they perceived by the teachers and students?

Hybrid classes have many positive benefits for both teachers and students.  Hybrid classes offer teachers new teaching opportunities.  For instance, teachers can develop the lesson plans to utilize the strengths of both on-line and in-class teaching strategies to be more effective in achieving the class objectives and goals.  These courses thus provide solutions to problems that were difficult to fix with the limitations of traditional in-class or on-line classes.  Teachers also have the opportunity to connect to their students more in a hybrid class than they do in an on-line class, while students are more responsible for their participation and work than they typically are in an in-class course.  “The integration of out-of-class activities with in-class activities allows more effective use of traditional class time.”(UW-M)  Discussions that spread over both on-line class time and in-class time can be much more effective for two reasons.  The first is that students can spend more time reflecting on the discussion topic, research the topic, and collect their thoughts.  The other advantage is that students who are less likely to participate in an in-class discussion can still share their ideas via on-line.  “Faculty believe that their students learn more in the hybrid format than they do in traditional class sections.  They report that students write better papers, performed better on exams, produced higher quality projects, and were capable of more meaningful discussions on course material when reflecting online.”(Hybrid Courses)  Another benefit is the organizational process of a hybrid class.  Quizzes, grading, surveys can all be automated, while threaded discussions, course documents, announcements, and grades are easily accessible for students.  Although there are many positives offered in a hybrid class, new technologies and teaching approaches are likely to have their challenges as well.

There are a few challenges that hybrid courses present to teachers.  The first is the redesign of a course; course objectives and goals may change, teachers will have to redesign their lesson plans to effectively integrate in-class lessons with on-line activities, and most importantly, teachers must be comfortable with all technology necessary to provide an effective on-line component.  The biggest challenge a teacher will face once the class is established is managing the two different environments learning without overwhelming themselves or their students.  Students on the other hand will be forced to learn new technologies which can make a course more difficult to achieve the goals and objectives if students are spending more time troubleshooting technology rather than on the on-line activities.  After weighing the positives and negatives of hybrid classes, how do they compare to traditional in-class courses and on-line courses.

When hybrid courses are properly designed utilizing the benefits of both on-line and in-class components, the hybrid courses become superior to both on-line and in-class courses.  Students have a greater time flexibility and convenience by working on-line.  Students will have the opportunity to interact and participate with classmates and their teacher in the environment they are most comfortable with.  Students will have 24/7 access to course work and on-line resources while having face-to-face time to assist with any difficulties students are having on-line.  In-class time will also provide classmates and teachers the opportunity build stronger connections than an on-line class will.

Based on the information gathered, hybrid classes on an effective alternative to the traditional in-class or on-line courses.

Hybrid classes are highly recommended due to the number of benefits for teachers, students and universities.  Teachers “may find improved attendance in the reduced classroom portions of the course, while their face-to-face teaching techniques are expanded and discussion responses by students are generally more thoughtful when written than when given extemporaneously.”(Hybrid Learning)  Students benefit by “increased time flexibility – including reduced commuting and parking time & opportunities for employment.  Students also have access to pre-recorded lectures and course materials for review if needed.”(Hybrid Learning)  These lectures are typically better quality and easier to comprehend because they are done in shorter modules.  Universities also benefit by “increased enrollment without increasing classroom space. Schools can offer “paired” courses on one day (block scheduling) allowing commuters & part time students the opportunity to take 2 classes with only one on-campus visit.”(Hybrid Learning)   Hybrid classes take advantage of technology and successfully integrate it into education improving learning across the country.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000


Arizona State University.http://asuonline.asu.edu/FacultySupport/Hybrid.cfm.

Bakersfield College.  www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/distance_learning/hybrid.asp.

 Brigham Young University. http://home.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp

 Hybrid Courses. http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/.

 Hybrid Learning. http://media.njit.edu/hybrid/defined.php.

University of Central Florida. http://www.ucf.edu/.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/LTC/hybridcourses.html.



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