Hybrid Course Guidelines

PURPOSE

The primary motivation for developing or transitioning a course for hybrid delivery is to improve the quality of the learning experience.  The following best-practices, guidelines, and examples are provided to guide faculty and departments in the development of a hybrid course.  

DESCRIPTION

Bourne and Seaman (2005) report that hybrid, or blended learning, provides the means to combine the best of face-to-face with the best of online learning. Secondary benefits may include an increase in classroom space to meet growing enrollment demands.

Developing or transitioning a course for hybrid delivery is primarily seen as an opportunity to improve the quality of the educational experience more than an effort to utilize technology or improve scheduling and classroom efficiency. A well-designed course should consider these best-practices specific to hybrids:

  1. Reduced time in a physical classroom.  An actual decrease of “in-class” time should be achieved.
  2. Deliberate selection of in-class and online activities. Some activities are better suited for online interaction, while face-to-face interaction is necessary for others. You can select and sequence these activities to complement and build upon each other to increase student learning.
  3. Increased engagement through online activities. The activities moved online from class should not turn into independent studyrather they should entail significant student-to-student and student-faculty interaction. These activities, however, should not require students to meet at a specific time and should be asynchronous.
  4. Clear instructions & organization. With increased options for assignments (online or in-class, individual or group), consistent instructions with due dates, locations, and formats are helpful.  Organize folders for a consistent “look and feel.”
  5. Hybrid course delivery will become a hallmark learning experience for BYU-Idaho students, as well as a distinctive competency of our institution. We will learn more about learning and will apply what we learn as we strive to continuously raise the quality of the student experience.  

In many ways, the basic development principles for designing a hybrid course are the same as an online or face-to-face course.  Outcomes, learning activities, and assessments should be integrated and linked for student learning.  The following questions can guide you through the course development:

  • What are the shared outcomes of the course?
  • Learning outcomes simply describe what students will be able to do, or what they will be able to accomplish in completing the course. They should foster the creation of significant learning experiences that promote deep learning (see Drafting Learning Outcomes).
  • How will we measure the learning outcomes?  
  • While learning is often abstract and difficult to measure, it is possible to define assignments with tangible products or observable behaviors that can be used to provide feedback and evidence of mastery (see Assessing for Transfer and Application).
  • What is the “architecture” of the course?
  • Architecture refers to the idea that once you have developed learning outcomes, you need to design learning experiences that will help your students achieve those outcomes.   It emphasizes changes from planning a teaching process, to planning and facilitating the learning process (see Architecture).  At BYU-Idaho we use the framework of the Learning Model to further ask these design and instructional questions:
  • How does my plan prepare my students (and me) for powerful learning experiences?
  • How will students teach one another in ways that engage them in the learning process?
  • How will I integrate pondering and reflection into the learning experience?  How will students apply and prove their learning?

COURSE DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

The following guidelines describe the process for the development of hybrid courses:

  1. Department chairs and college deans are responsible to select, review, and approve the courses developed for or transition to hybrid delivery.  For a course to be officially scheduled and deemed “hybrid” it must also be reviewed and approved by the Associate Academic Vice President for Curriculum.  
  2. A hybrid course development team will be appointed by the department chair. Faculty involved in development efforts should receive load release (not overload) for the assignment.
  3. Instructional designers and academic technology representatives are available to assist the development team. Courses being developed for online delivery will also be created in a hybrid format.
  4. Multi-section courses should have a “master course” design that can be modified by individual faculty members to their individual preferences.
  5. Each course and section should include some type of systematic inquiry directed at learning, based on President Clark’s remarks in the fall 2011 faculty meeting.
  • Keep a journal of impressions you receive from the Spirit about learning and teaching and act on them.
  • With the help of the Best Practices committee, identify a best practice that you can implement.  
  • Join or create a team to develop outcomes and assessments for a module or a course.
  • Develop a pre- and post-test for a module or course and administer it to students.  
  • Make sure you have a five-year development plan.  Identify skills, content areas, and creative work you would like to develop.
  1. Data and “lessons learned” should be collected and applied towards course improvement.

TIPS

  • Develop patterns.  Courses should follow a regular and consistent pattern of learning activities, including assignment due dates.
  • Create a positive culture. Help students get acquainted with each other at the beginning of the course.  Teach them proper “netiquette.”
  • Plan to be available. Instructors should set-aside their previous class time to be responsive to students. Provide timely communication through various means (email, phone, face-to-face).

PITFALLS

  • Less time in class will not reduce the overall workload of the course.  Those experienced in teaching hybrid courses indicate it takes as much time to teach a hybrid course as it does a face-to-face course.
  • Be cautious about overloading the course. It is easy to give too many assignments as you try to “cover” everything.  This can result in many concepts being touched on lightly, but none really being internalized by the students. Focus activities on key concepts that reach learning outcomes.
  • Avoid an independent study approach. Move beyond static postings and reading.  Employ online collaborative activities that foster engagement and commitment.

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