Hybrid Courses @ LPC
Questions and Answers for Faculty
What exactly is a hybrid course?
As defined at Las Positas College, a hybrid course is a course that has any combination of on-campus meetings (excluding orientations) and online meetings. For example, a class meeting once online and the rest of the time face-to-face would be considered a hybrid. So would a class that meets once face-to-face (excluding orientations) and the rest of the time online.
All hybrid courses have to be approved for Distance Education delivery by the LPC Curriculum Committee, and they must include regular, effective contact between the instructor and students. This includes the online portion of the course. The provision is also mandated by Title 5 regulations in California and by the U.S. Department of Education. Evidence of regular, effective contact is necessary to meet guidelines published by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Read the LPC Regular Effective Contact Guidelines.
Why would anyone want to teach a hybrid?
When designed properly, hybrids have proven to have a positive impact on student learning. According to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which has an extensive hybrid program, hybrids:
- Are more student- and learning-centered than typical face-to-face courses
- Have less listening and more activities
- Have more interaction and discussion
- Have greater engagement with students
- Offer a more flexible course format, and
- Open more possibilities
So what should I be thinking about while considering a hybrid?
Obviously, you will need to determine which activities students will complete in class and which ones they will complete online in order to achieve the outcomes. You will also need to determine how the activities in both modalities combine to create a tightly integrated, cohesive course. And as mentioned above, you will need to build activities that prove there is regular, effective contact in the online portion.
Your first step might be to identify those learning activities that you utilize for each of the course’s learning outcomes when you teach face-to-face. Then, for each of those outcomes, consider which activities would work better in the classroom and which would work better online. In other words, for those activities that students need a lot of help with, consider doing those on campus. For activities that you think students can do on their own, consider doing those online.
For example, if discussions in your face-to-face class are lively and engaging, keep those in the classroom. If your classroom presentations are not engaging, create a series of mini-lectures and move them online with interactivity, graphics, audio, and video. Have students answer questions about the mini-lectures, and you can give feedback.
You will also need to think about your students and how prepared they are (or aren’t) to learn online. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee identified several areas of student preparedness that you will need to address:
- The myth that fewer class meetings means less work
- Inadequate time management skills for online learning
- Difficulty accepting responsibility for learning
- Difficulty with more sophisticated technologies
- Difficulty grasping the hybrid course concept
I’m assuming that some thought will also have to go into how I’m going to organize my online component, correct?
Correct. Needless to say, you should organize your online component so that it works seamlessly with your face-to-face component. For instance, if you structure your face-to-face component into weeks, modules, chapters, units, etc., you should structure your online component the same. However you structure the class, just make sure that you cover all of the content that is detailed in the course outline of record.
How can I meet the regular, effective contact guidelines with my students?
As mentioned above, participating in discussions with your students and giving feedback on assignments (and exams) are good ways. Both get recorded in Canvas and can be used as evidence for accreditation and auditing purposes. Initiating email communications works, too. Just be sure to use the Canvas Inbox because all emails get archived there. There are other ways to meet the guidelines, also, such as using webconferencing (make sure to record the sessions), chat, and social media.
What other activities can be done online?
Though these don't necessary meet the regular, effective contact guideles, you can have students complete group work, written papers, research on the Internet, quizzes, exams, practice quizzes, simulations, virtual field trips, games, peer-editing/critiquing, wikis, polls and surveys, debates, case studies, and presentations. These are just some of the activities; the web opens up possibilities that are limited only by your creativity level.
Aside from activities, what should I post online to support my students?
Here are some possibilities:
- Course information, such as your syllabus and class policies
- Links to web sites related to your course
- Frequently asked questions
- Model assignment submissions
- Grading rubrics
- Student grades
So considering all of the above, how long will it take to design a hybrid?
That depends on several factors, such as your knowledge of Canvas, your experience teaching with Canvas, your knowledge of online learning, your overall computer skills, your time availability, and your motivation to teach a hybrid. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that you spend a semester designing your hybrid before you begin teaching it.
Will teaching a hybrid force me to do anything differently in the face-to-face class?
Most likely, at your first face-to-face class meeting, you will want to explain and demonstrate how the online component of the class will work, including a demonstration of how students log into Canvas. You will also need to tell your students how to get technical support.
It is very important that you teach your students about time management because they will be responsible for finding the time to complete class work online. Throughout the course, you should constantly ask for feedback from your students about what is working and what might not be working well online. With this feedback, you can make the necessary changes to improve the online component for the future.
OK, I think I want to design and teach a hybrid. How do I get started?
- Discuss your desire to teach a hybrid with colleagues in your discipline. Make sure to tell them how the online component will integrate with the face-to-face component. Discuss how the course fits with your discipline’s Enrollment Management plan. If the request is approved by your discipline, proceed to Step 2.
- Talk to your dean to get your dean’s approval. At that meeting, decide with your dean when your class will meet face-to-face and when it will meet online.
- Complete a curriculum proposal—including the Distance Education section, regardless of how much your class will meet online vs. on campus—and get the appropriate signatures. The curriculum proposal will have to be submitted to your division to get division approval. It will then be taken to the Curriculum Committee for discussion, and hopefully, approval.
- If approved by division and Curriculum, you should receive an email asking for information about your hybrid that needs to get inputted into the upcoming Schedule of Classes. This email will probably come from your dean around the time that divisions begin planning for the next schedule.
- Talk to the Distance Education Coordinator about the various options for training. To teach a hybrid, you will want to be trained in the technical aspects of Canvas, as well as in online teaching and learning (for example, facilitating class discussions online). Also, you will want training in how to make your course content accessible to students with disabilities, which is a federal requirement.