At CEU, hybrid teaching refers to the practice of having both in-person classes for those students able to attend and the possibility for other students who are unable to physically attend to participate fully in the course online. During the 2022-2023 academic year, most CEU courses will be held on-site if the health situation and regulations permit. Students who are unable to attend due to visa delays, classroom capacity restrictions, or other constraints may have the possibility in some circumstances to join in-person students for real-time class sessions (e.g., via Zoom). This is referred to as hybrid teaching, or in some scholarly resources, as hybrid synchronous teaching.
The terms hybrid and blended learning refer to a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. CEU has adopted a specific hybrid model which is commonly referred to as blended synchronous learning or hybrid synchronous learning (Bower et al., 2015; Butz et al. 2014).
At its core, hybrid learning at CEU involves learning environments that bring together face-to-face and online students through technology (definition adapted from Girons and Swinehart, 2020). This definition is helpful because contextualizes hybrid as a new course delivery method with its own benefits and challenges. Two groups of students are joining together in a new environment that will require different teaching and learning strategies than fully in-person or fully online courses. It will also require new use of technologies, specifically for facilitating live class sessions.
Additionally, CEU uses the terms synchronous and asynchronous to refer to when learning events place. A synchronous event involves students learning at the same time. This might include live class sessions in which some students attend in-person and others via Zoom. Asynchronous events happen between these live class sessions, usually on students’ own time. Incorporating both synchronous and asynchronous elements can build flexibility and choice into the structure of the course.
The hybrid model's flexibility and structure can benefit CEU students and faculty. For students waiting on a visa, being able to join a video call with peers may combat some of the isolation felt from not being on campus. When asynchronous elements are included, remote students without reliable access to Internet or a quiet study space can access materials and participate on their own time. In-person students can also benefit from increased structure and opportunities for reflection and collaboration between classes.
Although hybrid teaching and learning looks different from a face-to-face or online setting, faculty can approach hybrid course design from a similar lens. Backwards design is a well-known approach that supports faculty with course planning. It encourages instructors reflect on what they would like students to know or be able to do by the end of the course, and to work backwards to help them get there.
As you are planning your hybrid course, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What are the course goals? Which goals should be prioritized, given that it may be difficult to get through the same amount of content?
- What resources can you provide to help students reach these goals? Are they easily accessible online?
- What learning activities and assessments will allow students to develop or demonstrate these skills and knowledge in either format?
Considerations for Hybrid Course Design
Each CEU department has its own teaching and learning philosophy and pedagogy. Building upon the work departments are already doing, here are some principles to consider for hybrid courses:
Alignment: A course is aligned when the resources, learning activities and assessments are all working together to help students reach the course goals. This addresses some challenges of online and hybrid environments including perceived busy work, lack of motivation, information overload, and time management (Hartley & Cha). Discussing why you have included each resource can help students understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways (TILT Project).
Equivalency: A hybrid course should strive to provide equivalent learning experiences for face-to-face and remote students, regardless of their attendance method (Wang & Huang, 2018). The course can provide opportunities for both groups of students to collaborate in meaningful ways that are beneficial to their learning. Additionally, if a remote student is located in a different time zone and cannot attend live class sessions, consider asynchronous activities where they may be able to connect and interact with their peers.
Structure: Designing highly-structured courses can benefit all students, particularly students who often get left behind (Sathy & Hogan, 2019). Frequent touch opportunities can help remote and rotating students stay on track, especially when they cannot be physically present in the classroom. High structure may include low-stakes assessments, regular deadlines, and check-ins with faculty and teaching assistants (Lang, 2020, CEU login required).
Flexibility: Hybrid learning will be challenging for everyone and will take practice, experimentation, and adjustments to expectations (Georgetown CNDLS, 2021). As with online teaching, there may be unforeseen barriers that affect students’ ability to participate fully in the course. Incorporating some flexibility and choice can allow students to succeed as they are adjusting to the new learning environment.
Communication: Developing a clear and consistent communication strategy can help students know where to seek support without overloading faculty time commitment (Darby & Lang, 2019). In your syllabus, you may consider adding a statement that lets students know when and how you will provide course updates, how they should contact you, and when they can generally expect a response.
CEU’s classrooms are equipped to support the academic community with hybrid teaching and learning. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the available technology and links to detailed resources on IT's SharePoint Site [CEU login required].
Classroom Equipment: IT has put together a comprehensive guide of the available classroom equipment [CEU login required]. Contact IT Classroom Support (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions regarding classroom technology or to set up a classroom walk-through.
Video-conferencing and Recording: Remote students can join live class sessions using Zoom. If in-person students wish to join the call, they can join from their own devices. They should mute themselves AND turn off their speakers, or the class may experience issues with audio. It is also possible to record class sessions with Zoom. Learn more about using Zoom for teaching and recording.
Moodle: Although you may be meeting with most of your students in person, it can be beneficial to all students to build out your Moodle course with resources and assignments. Learn more at Getting Started with Moodle and Moodle FAQs. For individual technical support, contact e-Learning Developer and Manager Gábor Ács (email@example.com).