Hybrid Course (re)Design Tips

Posted by: Jessica Nerren
November 17, 2019

Tip 1: Take it easy

  • Start early — 3-6 months in advance — and produce actual learning modules that meet specific learning goals and are relatively easy to manage and grade.
  • Redesign is an incremental process. Try not to include too many new activities at first. Start small and you can build it one step at a time.
  • Experiment and learn as you go.
  • Keep technology use simple in order to avoid turning the course into a support nightmare and gradually add more advanced technology.
  • Remember that as you increase significantly the number of assignments and opportunities for feedback, you also potentially increase your own work load. Don't burn yourself out!

Tip 2: Focus on design, not technology

  • Critically re-examine course goals and objectives and consider carefully how they can best be achieved in the hybrid environment.
  • Develop new learning activities that capitalize on the strengths of the online and face-to-face learning environments.
  • Avoid the common tendency to cover too much material and include too many activities in the redesigned course that result in a "course and a half."
  • Don't overload the course: online activities take longer than you think they will.
  • Focus on the integration of the online and face-to-face components. Connecting what occurs in class with what is studied online is critical so instructors do not end up teaching two parallel but unconnected courses.
  • Review the examples of hybrid courses available through this site to think about different schedules for in-class/online work, and the implications of those different schedules for the learning activities you have planned.

Tip 3: Use the resources already available

  • Search for discipline-specific Web sites for available content.
  • Check out MERLOT and other learning object repositories.
  • Look for publisher content available online, especially in lower-level courses.
  • Use online help resources such as facilitation of group work, managing discussion forums, etc. (see below)
  • Tip 4: Don't go it alone
  • Talk with and get advice and feedback from experienced hybrid course instructors.
  • Discuss your problems and progress with colleagues, whether they are using the hybrid or not.
  • Get feedback and support from faculty who have taught hybrid courses or professionals from your faculty development or technology centers, like the UW-Milwaukee Learning Technology Center. 

Tip 5: Manage your students' expectations

  • Explain and justify the hybrid course format and assignments clearly and repeatedly.
  • Make sure that students understand the equivalence between the amount of work in traditional class and in a hybrid class.
  • Draw your students' attention to special technical needs, or particular assignments that may require additional resources: not all online work can be completed at home.
  • Make all assignments and other course expectations as explicit as possible right from the start. In particular, make sure that the schedule of in-class and online work is clear to the students, and that due dates are stated explicitly and repeatedly.
  • Identify and develop plans, materials, and activities to help students with the technology and time management challenges many encounter.

Tip 6: Prepare for anticipated problems

  • Use simpler technologies to reduce risk and complications.
  • Break down and phase in longer assignments.
  • Provide time management tips for students.
  • Be very clear about what students are expected to do, and how you will grade them.
  • Prepare technology help sheets.
  • Identify place to go for live technology help.
  • Develop a plan for conducting course activities when technology fails. For example, keep a backup copy of files on a home computer so you can e-mail important information to students.

Tip 7: The little things count!

  • Things will occasionally go wrong; plan carefully and be flexible about making adjustments where needed.
  • Ask for feedback from your students often and take their responses seriously.
  • Don't organize your course too tightly. There's always some "slippage," and you need to leave room for any adjustments that you think necessary.
  • During the course, falling behind or sloppy record keeping can be fatal: stay current and keep copies of everything. Set aside time to focus on the online components, including reading student postings and assignments.
  • Use the tools in the course management system to get organized and stay organized.