Examining hybrid designed course structures

This is the second in a two-part series of Teaching Tips based on Hybrid Pedagogy. While the first teaching tip provided some background and definitions, this tip focuses more on specific changes instructors can make to their classes to cultivate instructional factors and increase student success.

With the advance of educational technology in the classroom, instructors have more and more options available to them when considering how to offer a class. When considering such a wide array of possibilities, it is often helpful to create simplified categories that are mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. So let’s consider a 2 x 2 categorical grid with one half representing when a class takes place (asynchronous/synchronous), while the other axis represents where a class takes place (place-based/distance-based). Take a moment to examine the chart below.  


Where would you place your class in the chart? If your class is already using a hybrid design, feel free to consider the mixed modes of instruction separately. In other words, are there some parts of your course that are synchronous, while others are asynchronous?

You might have been handed a course to teach or be doing things the way they’ve been done traditionally before. In fact, unless you have intentionally chosen the modes and means of the timing and placement of your course, it’s very much worth considering other possibilities. Each quadrant of the chart has strengths and weaknesses. If you are trying to optimize for a particular learning outcome, then it’s helpful for you to consider a method whose strengths support your goals. Now that you’ve identified where your class or activities are on the chart, consider that location. Is that the best possible spot for the kinds of learning objectives that you are helping your students master?

Place-Based Example

Suppose you are teaching an intro course that is face-to-face (synchronous), but you’ve noticed that your students lack the big perspective of the program that your class is a part of. Rather than teach classes separately, think about how you might bring students of upper-division classes, or even graduate students into your intro course. This is actually one of the strengths of the workshop or project studio model. In such a place novice students can see what those who are closer to degree completion are doing. Workshops and studios are also good for peer-to-peer interaction. Just being present and hearing occasional feedback from you to other students can increase exposure to content, and give your students a new perspective.

Distance-Based Example

We tend to teach to the lowest common denominator. Suppose that you have some students in front of you as you lecture, and others “dial in’. Some of your remote students have a camera feed, and others can only listen in. While it might be tempting to think of an audio-only lecture as the fairest way to teach, consider using another tool to shift your lecture material to a recorded format that can be consumed by students outside of class. In other words, you can flip the lecture, and use the strength of your time together for discussion, or for guidance. If you take this route, you’d be moving your class from the teleconference model to one that more resembles a hybrid class. So, how would your class look and feel if it were based in another quadrant, if it were taught in a different manner if the students interacted with each other and you differently? Change doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can experiment with small alterations to parts of your course and reflect on the different experiences between the same class offered in different semesters, or the same class offered in different sections. If you need ideas, or just want someone to listen to your plan, let’s talk.

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Dan Lasota

Dan LaSota

Instructional Designer
Certified QM Peer Reviewer
Certified QM Training Facilitator


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