Creating A Hybrid Course
© Kristina Kauffman, 2001
Thinking about the creation of an hybrid course?
Just what is a hybrid course? Colleges define "hybrid" differently. At Riverside Community College in California, a hybrid course is defined as a course that meets for at least half the course time in the face-to-face traditional classroom environment and for just less than half of the course time online. Hybrid courses are distinguished from online courses that are taught over the internet and may have very few or no face-to-face meetings. Web enhanced classes should not be confused with hybrid courses. Web enhanced courses may have a website or even a text online, but students in web enhanced courses meet in the traditional face-to-face classroom for the traditional number of hours for that course.
What happens during the online portion of the hybrid course? Many differing options are available. It is usually wise to think about what you do best in the traditional classroom and retain that portion of the class for the face-to-face experience. Put online those materials that are best viewed on a computer or use the web for materials that are remedial in nature. If you are a brilliant lecturer but find effective classroom discussion a challenge, use a bulletin board to encourage discussion and promote effective writing. If your classroom discussions bring life to your traditional classroom, but you find students nodding off during your lecture, think about creative ways to move much of your lecture online where you can bring it to life with imagery, audio or even video. Concerned about bandwidth and student's inability to view streamed video with current technology, put the materials on a CD.
Where should someone new to hybrid course design start? You can start with this mini-course as a guide. Do not be limited by the suggestions you find here. Hybrid courses allow for tremendous creativity. You will actually see students and hear first hand what is working and doesn't work. You can start small, putting just an hour of a three hour class online per week, or dive in with half the class. Do think about consistency between topics. You will save your students a great deal of time if each topic, lesson or module has a consistent look and is designed to cover similar aspects of the material. It is usually not wise to put the lecture online for one topic and the discussion online for the next. If you plan to have online discussion keep that a consistent feature across the topics. Remember, you can always re-adjust. Your lessons are not carved in stone. Updating and course correction will be much easier than drafting the materials for the first time.
How long does it take to create a hybrid course? The most important part of the hybrid course is your VISION for the course design. You may have an idea in mind right now, or it may take that vision weeks to crystallize. Your work style may require several manifestations of the course to play with ideas. Or, you may dive in and have a course up by the conclusion of a long weekend. Hybrid courses can take 200 hours or 20 hours to design. Don't confuse time invested upfront with the best results for your subject. If the best aspect of the online environment for your course is the use of the bulletin board, you may have a hybrid class up in a day. Remember, however, that using a bulletin board means you have to monitor it, participate and grade materials. That is intensely time consuming every semester. If the best plan for your course is to put introductory materials, research assignments (webquests) and remedial materials online, you may spend 200 hours before the class starts and have a product that enriches your course and saves you many hundreds of hours over the next few years, hours you can spend offering students more of your time in informal meetings. In essence, do what the subject matter and your approach to teaching suggest will make the course come alive. If you do, the product will be so worthwhile that the time spent will be well worth the effort.
© Kristina Kauffman, 2001