Hybrid Course Design
I feel that I am a bit more familiar with hybrid/blended courses than fully online courses because we have more blended courses where I work. The only online courses available at the college where I work are graduate, and summer undergraduate. The majority of our courses are traditional undergraduate in classroom settings. Many of these courses however do include an online component to supplement the classroom. As Ko (2010) points out, these run from minimal use of online resources such as posting the syllabus in the course management system, to full utilization just shy of a full online course.
I appreciated Ko’s addressing the elephant in the room for blended courses. Many faculty believe that adding online components doubles the workload without additional compensation or course load consideration. Ko states “we don’t believe that using the Web effectively requires you to labor twice as long for the same pay” (2010, p. 358). Rather, Ko describes a method of flipping the classroom, where content is posted online, and classroom if freed for discussions and active learning. I think that this approach has exciting potential, but the drawbacks are the extra time to develop and design this newer form of androgogy. Faculty need time to do so and colleges are often reluctant to provide that needed reduction in courseload for development.
Other uses for online coursework include discussion boards and quizzes. These vary in effectiveness depending on the design and whether they are required or considered useful enough for students to spend time in them. One use for hybrid technology is establishing virtual office hours. I will be exploring this over the next academic year as I strive to connect to students for library research services in better ways.
It is important not to overload the student when designing a hybrid course. Just as a hybrid course should not double the workload for the faculty member, it should not double the workload for the student either. Make sure to balance the work between physical and virtual spaces. Professors must also realize that hybrid courses increase the potential for confusion. Instructions and timelines must be made very clear so that different or inconsistent information is provided in both places. Students need to know if work should be submitted in the course management system, or in class.
Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: a practical guide (3rd ed.). Routledge.