In a couple of weeks, I (Cathy) will start teaching my first hybrid course. Also known as mediated learning, blended learning, and web-enhanced instruction, this kind of course can be considered “the middle ground between our society’s adolescent love affair with technology and ancestral need for human contact and a sense of belonging” (Landau, 2015).
Baker College’s Instructional Technology Web site on blended instruction defines some of the advantages of hybrid or blended instruction:
- Providing tools to facilitate communication outside of scheduled class time and office hours enhances student-student and faculty-student communication.
- The blended learning environment supports different learning styles and methods. Students have time for reflection when participating in online discussions and can participate at a time and place that meets their needs.
- Online materials are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, insuring that students always have access to assignments and other handouts.
- On-line testing can be used for student pretests and practice. On-line discussion between class sessions can identify areas of student difficulty that need to be addressed in class.
- Course management and administration is simplified with an online gradebook and tools for email management.
The Hanover Research Council (2009) suggests the following best practice teaching strategies for online education: Group problem-solving and collaborative tasks; Problem-based learning; Discussion;Case-based strategies; Simulations or role play; Student-generated content; Coaching or mentoring; Guided learning; Exploratory or discovery; Lecturing or teacher-directed activities; Modeling of the solution process; and Socratic questioning
Yet, even though there are numerous advantages to online learning and many strategies to make it effective learning, I am told many students simply ignore the online material and rely on what they learn in class. I suspect this may be because they feel it is easier to play hooky from a computer, or their schedules simply get in the way. However, I feel my students will miss a lot if they ignore the online portion of our course. So I am collecting strategies to entice the students to engage in the online offerings;
- offer a mark for engaging on line
- provide enticements or teasers for what they might find online
- review of intended learning for online work in class to ensure clarity,
- use video streaming and/or chat rooms at designated hours so students feel connected to the site
I hope these ideas work, as I am looking forward to giving this a try. If you have taught a hybrid course and have some more ideas, I’d really like to hear about them… online of course!