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Principles for the Fall Semester

Hybrid Teaching Strategies

Hybrid courses blend online and face to face instruction, reducing in class seat time for students and replacing it with online synchronous and asynchronous activities. Hybrid teaching and learning may be especially suited for the upcoming fall semester. A well-designed hybrid course requires a detailed course schedule and a robust Canvas site to support an effective and consistent online experience for learners, one that can make a temporary transition to fully remote instruction less jarring for all the participants.

Success in the Hybrid Classroom

Best practices in hybrid teaching incorporate many of the same principles that support best practices in online teaching. However, there are two potential pitfalls that hybrid course instructors should be mindful to avoid:
• Overloading students with a great deal more work than they would have in either a completely face to face or completely online course
• Not giving clear directions about what will be accomplished in each modality and connecting the two (Ko and Rossen, 2016)

Either one or both of these can cause frustration and confusion among students, effectively derailing the class and your plan for the semester. The strategies listed below can help you avoid these difficulties as you plan for and deliver a successful hybrid class.

When you think about which parts of your class to teach in person, which components to deliver online synchronously and which to deliver only asynchronously, consider the following:

  • What do you do normally do in your on campus class? Take the time to reflect on what transpires during the 50 or 75 minutes of your typical on campus class. Do you take attendance and if so, how long does that take? How quickly do you jump into the lecture or discussion? Do you start the class with student questions from the last lesson or homework? What is the normal flow of your course? How do you tie in class and out of class activities and homework together? What part does group work or collaborative learning play in the course? How do you assess student learning?
  • When is your physical presence in the learning space or the students’ physical presence in the learning space and with one another essential to meeting a course outcome or demonstrating a significant achievement or benchmark in the class?
  • What are your favorite topics to teach?
  • Which concepts are challenging for students?
  • What digital and open educational resources are available?
  • Will all of your students have access to high speed internet and various computing devices?
  • What types of alternative assignments or activities can you include for students who have connectivity problems or are out due to illness?

As you answer these questions, you’ll begin to distinguish the areas of your class that are best delivered on campus in a physical classroom, and those that are best delivered online. Keep in mind:

  • Content areas in which students need additional information, support or opportunities for practice are well matched with asynchronous instruction and feedback
  • Demonstrations and hands-on activities are often appropriate for in-class and online synchronous engagement
  • Discussions – whether small group or larger class discussions – can be effective in a variety of modalities, often bridging gaps between the on-campus segments and online activities

For a hybrid course to be successful, instructors must connect the on-campus and online portions of the class including the lecture materials, readings, discussions, group work, etc. so that students can move through the materials in a timely fashion that makes sense, and not feel as though they are taking two separate classes, or half of one course. Your answers to the questions under Find a Balance should inform how you make this connection while establishing a framework for your class.

Students may be altogether unfamiliar with how a hybrid course works and so it’s imperative that you share a detailed course schedule with your students. Be sure to clearly indicate what is happening on campus, what is happening online in Zoom, and what is happening online in Canvas.

Example: This example is a course schedule for a M-W-F hybrid (daily flip-flop) course that meets face-to-face on Wednesdays and online synchronously and asynchronously on Mondays and Fridays.

Include a statement about the delivery method: [This is hybrid course and will be delivered through a blend of on-campus and online instruction. On Wednesdays, we will meet as a class on campus in Room #. On Fridays, we will meet online as a class in Zoom. On Mondays, you are expected to complete online asynchronous activities, which are posted in the Canvas course site.] Add details, as needed, including information about submitting assignments and taking exams.

In a hybrid class, the online asynchronous days are not holidays or time off and it’s critical to hold students accountable for the work they are assigned during the online segments of the course. Leveraging the assignment and assessment tools in Canvas is one way to help students stay on track with the course materials and not fall behind.