Hybrid (Blended)

Same Time, Varied Location

The hybrid course delivery method is a mix of in-person and online/virtual learning sessions. Up to 50% of the class sessions that would otherwise be scheduled, based upon the allotted credit hours, are replaced with engaging online activities or synchronous Zoom sessions. Students who register for a hybrid course should expect to access online resources to supplement their learning.

Key Principles for Success

Recent studies show that the hybrid delivery method can be more effective than online or in-person delivery methods alone. It allows the instructor to maximize both the benefits of in-person learning and online learning. In-person time can be devoted to interaction, application, and support, while online learning can offer efficiency, flexibility, and time for deeper reflection and focused study.

A successful hybrid course has the following ingredients:

  • Well-defined learning objectives, which inform the design of in-person and online learning sessions. 
  • A quality online learning environment that has good content and good instructions, structured in a way that is easy to navigate.  
  • In-person class time that is focused on student engagement more than lecturing, since lecture content can be delivered more efficiently online.
  • Well-defined expectations for how the course will work and a well-defined schedule.
  • Regular communication and adherence to the expectations that are set.

In short, the best practices of in-person, online, and/or virtual instruction apply to hybrid courses. Although hybrid instruction requires more time and planning than other methods, it can be especially rewarding.


Course Mapping 

More than any other delivery method, a good hybrid course requires planning. One of the best ways to plan a hybrid course is to use a course mapping technique.

Begin course mapping by listing the course objectives. Align them to activities and assessments, and then identify the content and in-person exercises needed to achieve the objectives. Once these are identified, develop a delivery schedule that lists the content and activities to be delivered in each online module and in-person learning session. Review your schedule and make sure students have regular opportunities to demonstrate their learning, get feedback, and interact with others. For best results, share your course map with a colleague or student and get feedback.

Course Mapping Worksheet

This Delivery Design Worksheet was created by Dr. Brian Beatty and is another useful tool for planning a hybrid course.

Online Content Development 

Start developing content as early as possible—especially video content. The time required to prepare and record video content will roughly equal what is required to prepare for and teach an in-person class—assuming you are comfortable with the recording technology. Plan accordingly. Instructional designers, publisher representatives, and other support staff are usually overwhelmed just before the semester starts, so it is a good idea to be in touch with them well ahead of time also.

Course Video Tips 

Try to keep lecture videos under 15-20 minutes in length, even if that means creating multiple videos. Longer videos can be difficult for students to manage. Data shows that the average drop-off point for course videos is 70 percent of the way through, so front-load your most important content into the first 50-70% of the video. Use a quality microphone and good lighting, and act as natural as you would in class.

Additional Content 

Plan to write more instructions in your syllabus and assignments than you normally would in a fully in-person class. You won’t be in-person as much to describe the assignments, so students will need extra written guidance. If you are giving reading assignments, keep in mind that the average student reads about 140 to 200 words per minute. The average textbook contains about 800 to 1000 words per page.

Planning In-Person Class Time

Hybrid courses rely heavily on students coming to class prepared so that limited class time can be used effectively. That means students need to have compelling incentives to both come to class and prepare. Incentives can include the following:

  • Quizzes or assignments connected to class attendance. 
  • Time to work on projects or problem.
  • Team and group work.
  • Case studies, demonstrations, and other applications of the online material.  
  • Guest speakers 
  • And more. Consider all the ways class time can meet your course objectives.

Try to make the pre-class, online material as focused and efficient to access as possible so that students are more likely to complete it.

Preparing Students 

Do not expect that students will be familiar with the hybrid format or completely sold on it. Take time up front to note the benefits of hybrid delivery, including efficiency, flexibility, and more engaging and supportive in-person class time. Emphasize the value of attending class and being prepared, and share some effective study skills for time spent learning online. Above all, leave students feeling confident that their experience with the hybrid format can be successful and rewarding.

Strategies for face-to-face time include posterboards, models and exhibits, debates, art projects, hadns on learning, diagrams, direct instruction, and performances. Strategies for online learning include interactive flashcards, podcasts, online assessments, interactive simulations, research, instructional videos, app development, and online discussions. Strategies for both online and face-to-face include stem projects, peer collaboration, small group instruction, slide presentations, student and teacher conferences, writing assignments, coding, and digital lessons.

Some ideas for activities in each type of delivery.

Source: eDynamic Learning

Planning for Feedback and Improvement 

Teaching a hybrid course can take several terms to dial in completely. Use mid-course surveys and class discussion to get feedback on how the course is running, and make incremental improvements term after term. You can also reach out to your instructional designer at CIDI for help at any time!

Below you will find additional articles on engagement, design, and assessment techniques relative to hybrid and other forms of instruction.