A hybrid course is much more than just an online course with a face-to-face class session thrown in for good measure. It involves asking, “What is the best way for students to interact with course content, construct knowledge, engage in critical thinking and problem solving?” Purposeful decisions are made by the instructor as to what activities are best included in face-to-face class sessions, and which activities would work well in a virtual environment. The term hybrid, or blended course, signifies a new way of thinking about how to harness the power of technology to promote learning and identify the best strategies to help students master important course concepts. However, it is about more than just teaching an existing course in a new format.
Professors utilize social media in four critical ways: to connect, to notify, to teach, and to curate. At the University of Delaware, Professor Christine Cucciarre uses Twitter for a class assignment in which students are required to post seven to 10 times about class readings over a 48 hour period. She said because Twitter only allows its users to write 140 characters, it teaches students to compress their writing and forces them to think about word choice.
A recent Faculty Focus article, “Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom,” identified seven principles of good instruction that are important considerations when designing or facilitating an online course.
Graham et al. note the following seven lessons for online instruction: Instructors should provide clear guidelines for interaction with students; provide well-designed discussion assignments to promote cooperation among students; encourage students to present course projects to one another; provide prompt feedback of two types–information and acknowledgement; provide assignment deadlines; provide challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for high-quality work to reinforce high expectations; and allow students to choose project topics.
Sherry Rankins-Robertson and Tiffany Bourelle from the School of Letters and Sciences at Arizona State University discuss their experiences teaching online and the Writers’ Studio instructional model they use for some of their online writing courses.