Sharing insights on teaching hybrid classes


This wiki was originally created to collect ideas to share at a University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers conference. We will also use your input in a faculty development workshop at UMD (on how to design and teach hybrid classes). We asked people to give input on the questions that we have listed here. Now, following the conference, we have left this wiki active to serve as an ongoing resource to anyone interested in learning about hybrid teaching and in sharing suggestions for others.

Feel free to add your responses to any of the questions that we have posed below.

To post your contributions to this wiki:
  1. Click on the green "Edit this page" button above --> This switches to editing view so that you can type your responses below under each question.
  2. As you add your ideas, if you find that someone else has already listed what you were going to say, please note this (so that we can see where multiple people have had the same experience). Then also add any other ideas not already mentioned.
  3. When you are done, click on the "Save" button that appears on the Editing tool bar that is shown when you are in editing view.

Many thanks!

Helen Mongan-Rallis, Terrie Shannon, and Paula Pedersen
University of Minnesota Duluth


In your hybrid course, how (if at all) has the face-to-face part of this class changed because of what you were able to have students do through the online component of you course?
  • I tend to do more hands-on application type of activities in class and less lecture than I used to (ditto on this one)
  • I decided to change the entire course approach, which informed the use of the online component. In other words, the course goals informed the use of the online pedagogical component vs. just changing the course because I wanted to do something online.
  • The moodle that I used opened up time needed for other sharing of content and activities. I used moodle when students were out on apprenticeships.
  • I found that class discussion was richer and more students participated in an online venue because it was part of the course requirements. I've used both moodle and webvista and there are advantages/disadvantages to each.
  • •Continue f2f discussions online, so that students can go into more depth, add additional ideas that they think of, also enable students who did not speak in class to have voice.
  • Seems like I was always running out of time in class to cover all of the material and doing some of it on-line helps
  • I can “listen” to all group discussions on line, and then begin the next face-to-face class by making connections to these discussions
  • I ask myself, “Can I justify requiring students to come to class?” What drives it is I keep thinking, “Is it worth their time coming to class.” Any time I think it isn’t…
  • I don’t get the question, “are we doing anything important” I find the atmosphere in class is so much improved.
  • I used to treat it as a traditional lecture course – now I expect them to read (and come prepared)
  • I feel I have to make better use/very good use of the face-to-face part of class, knowing that it is limited and that there is a huge time gap before I see my students in class again. I try to reserve the in-class time for pieces of the class that couldn't be done as well online - for example, with the stats, I tried to do the bulk of explain/teaching face to face and then used the online portion as practice/reinforcement/follow up.
  • I see a greater deal of bonding and trust in peer interactions than I do in strictly face to face classes. Small, sustained, and varied student work groups develop a goove, vibe, and almost an ethos together. This carries over into F2F interactions.
  • INTENTIONALLY link the online work to the f2f work.
What specific examples can you share of what you do in your face-to-face part of this class so as to make the most of this in-person time in a hybrid class?
  • Having students engage in simulations either in preparation for reading or follow-up discussion online after class, or as a way of having them apply what they have read prior to coming to class (3)
  • Guest speakers (4)
  • Watching segments of movies or videos (4)
  • Discussions/reflections of in-class and online learning activities (3)
  • Clarification of online assignments
  • Have students read articles before and post comments and I use the comments as launching points for discussions in the classroom.
  • Sometimes I'll have an online discussion and, instead of jumping in, I'll read student comments and talk about specific topics that were brought up in the online discussion in the in-class time.
  • F2f is best where students need immediate feedback.
  • Building a sense of community in class: Success in the online part relies on a sense of community and it works well to START this f2f.
  • Activities that require interaction.
  • For topics where people will have aha moments, will build on each other’s ideas spontaneously…
  • F2f part needs to be at beginning of course, to make connections, and also be held when students are worried about the content they are learning, or have concerns, for example when they are planning their research project, it’s helpful to have f2f contact.
  • face to face time can be cool for rapport construction that enables subsequent exchanges to be interpreted supportively, collegially, and in the larger context of building content capacity and relational capacity to do the good work that the course outlines.
  • Students actually wanted lectures, so I did some of that.
  • Discussion in class that require personal reactions
  • Discussion of sensitive topics
  • If you need to lecture, do it f2f.
  • Do things where they are creating things together, where they need to “negotiate” definitions, (example, in groups they have to agree on definitions for knowledge, understanding, application, effort, etc. and then create a common visual for their term)
  • When students do individual presentations and I add to them – layered, and built upon.
  • where you need to show examples while teaching about, for example teaching about standard deviation or about normal curve, need to draw it
  • Face-to-face element is the touchy feely relationship part where you can read the physical cues – which I think is important for me as a teacher.
  • Allowing for clarification of assignments-questions and answers
  • Role plays and students getting feedback from each other and also me
  • Theatre is about community – it is about bringing people together. Online courses don’t do that. I want people to meet each other, to feel a sense of community – that is what theatre is about.
  • Student presentations
  • Because of the nature of the course (statistics) I found the most effective use of face-to-face time to be direct instruction (I know that sounds like maybe not the best form of educational practice, but with limited time for this in-person meetings, it seemed most efficient and effective. I think this would change if the content/nature of the course were something different. I tried in the first class meeting to incorporate student discussion (bring an article relevant to the analysis technique studying) but then it seemed to me that students felt it was wasting class time - it seemed to me that students wanted the direct instruction (how to do it) and then time to practice on problems - so the direct instruction and practice exercises seemed most effective, but I think that was driven by the course content and objectives
  • Face to face time also strikes me as a good way to enable active, metacognitive pedagogies such as fish bowl, structured debate, and the like that support cognitive synthesis, affective responding and organizing, as well as physical movement
  • having something tangible (hard copy of concept map or hard copy of assignment, with her written feedback on it) helps students to tie their online work to their f2f sessions.

What have you found to be the most effective use of online time in a hybrid class?
  • Having students engage with each other in small-group discussions (in Moodle) that build on what they experienced in class and on what they have read outside of class (2)
    • Differing opinion: At this point, I do not like small-group discussions using course management systems. I have tried them in the past and do not find them to be effective.
  • Having students work with others in pairs or small groups, collaborating online using GoogleDocs
  • Making use of different resources online (e.g. listening to relevant podcasts, YouTube videos, accessing readings either through the university library online resources or through other Internet based resources (3)
  • Interactive learning through student blogs...students teach and learn from each other...also provide support for each other through comments (2)
  • I was amazed at the on-line comraderie. Students got to places on their own that I might have had to lead them to in class. The on-line humor was remarkably apt and pertinent and light.
  • These comments are quite similar to others mentioned here -- the online component adds another dimension to the face-to-face component -- students can be assigned to research something and then report in the discussion. Based on my experience taking an online class (as a training exercise to teach online), I think the online discussion format has great potential to have a significant role in learning because students are asked to take a more active role in their learning.
  • I find that my students come to class more prepared in the hybrid version of the course. Instead of their out of class/online work being simply homework - it seems to be given more priority and effort because it is part of class time as well. Because if this - use if classtime is much more efficient - effective - more informed discussion, etc.
  • The language of instruction and interaction in the face-to-face part of the class is not the students' native language, so the moodle discussion allows them the opportunity to discuss issue in greater depth in their first language and to clarify points in class that may have left them confused in their new language.
  • The most important part of online is the quality and depth of discussion. Important advantage is that they have time, to reflect, to think about how they want to phrase things, can build on each other’s posts. Introverted students sometimes just bloom here. They feel heard! Maybe for the first time…
  • Important point about the online part: builds a sense of responsibility and accountability. Everyone knows whether they are reading and contributing to the discussion!
  • Discussion posts then can ask students to use critical reflection, rather than just “summarize the article” type posts (which are boring and don’t add depth to thinking.)
  • Have each student post information about their research project – whatever stage they are at (proposal, draft, final). Five students a week post their stuff, and all students must respond to all students. Good input and care and support of each other. People feel heard and seen and responded to. Improves quality of projects.
  • Students become more responsible as learners as a result of the online part. They become invested in each other’s success!
  • Online discussion that require outside research and more depth – e.g. research by asking your field experience cooperating teacher and read about the topic
  • Students often feel they get more attention from the teacher during the online part than during the f2f part
  • Group work can start f2f, but becomes very powerful during online part. They give each other incredible feedback and support.
  • Discussion of assigned readings, of field placement experiences
  • On-line quizzes
  • Submission of journals
  • Threaded discussions. I knew I wanted to have small group discussions, but I couldn’t figure our logistically to get 70 students to talk. In art there isn’t a right answer – it is about your opinion. Students are nervous about that. I felt like the online portion seems to give them a little more confidence to express an opinion. It is not as in-depth as I would like, although it varies from group to group.
  • It seems effective to have the instructor direct and provide prompts early on, and then as the course progresses, to distribute these decisions to students (in formal and informal ways).
  • Used two different types of forums: (a) critical dialogue about the readings (b) explained assignments face-to-face then follow up with online directions (step-by-step directions for specific qualitative research projects using different types of data collection techniques. Students then reviewed each other’s project findings, offered each other ideas and resources for their assignments
  • Listening to podcasts and analyzing these
  • Taking theory and applying this to their own context. Deeper learning online, they build on each other’s answers. Increases self-knowledge, and deeper understanding when they learn about cross-contextual application.

To what extent has your teaching of other classes that are not hybrid been influenced by what you have learned through your hybrid teaching experiences?
  • I find myself incorporating online resources more and more, not to replace face-to-face class time, but changing the nature of the homework that I assign to students outside of class. For example, I no longer use a text book, but instead have students read from a wide range of resources available online (both scholarly journals as well as from other sources such as online newspapers). (2)
  • Increased familiarity with online tools gives me more options to use in face-to-face classes. (2)
  • I specifically spend f2f time teaching students how to engage in high level discussions on line, otherwise the discussions become very simple and I think painstaking for the students, especially undergraduates.
  • I agree with the not using a textbook idea -- I have seriously reduced textbook usage in many of my classes because there is so much reliable and interesting information available online (the challenge of course is the "reliable" part). There are many sites where primary resources are available for students to read and this is a more meaningful use of time, I think.
  • I have incorporated many online ideas into my face-to-face classes -- using an online discussion project to tackle a topic that is not covered in the face-to-face class is one example.
  • Tthe biggest thing for me is thinking about what discussions are best in person and which outside.
  • I ask myself “can I use technology to help me teach.” I find with the use of blogs, they write better than they did before, because they have a real audience. I give them feedback in email.
  • The use of Moodle as a platform has influenced other courses - the idea of having every thing in one place, organized by week, so students can access/turn in/retrieve etc. all within the same place.
  • I'm learning to support F2F students with web 2.0 tools. My fave to date has been wiki/Google Docs student feedback at midterm and end of course reflective processing of what's working and not working in the course.
  • love, love, love Moodle” The thinking is so much richer and deeper. I would never go back to teaching f2f classes. In the fall I’m teaching one, but I’m going to change it to hybrid. There are things you can’t do as well if just f2f…

What have your students' reactions been to taking your hybrid class(es)? What do they like about hybrid classes? What don't they like?
  • Students report that they really like the different readings online as these tend to be far more current and relevant to their lives than what they have found when using a textbook
  • Initial learning curve is steep when a new technology is used. Frustration in the beginning but enjoyable once it is learned.
  • They also like the freedom of being able to complete things on their own schedule.(2)
  • Most like hybrid classes, but a few would rather f2f.
  • They liked moodle immensely in the first class in which I used it. By the time I initiated it in the second class, the group said they'd much rather have me give them response because they were tired of moodle work in other classes. Was the novelty wearing off so soon?
  • As usual, quite a bit of variability. Many students have the impression that online classes are "easier" but some students avoid them because they don't feel there is enough structure in them and they don't seem to be able to organize themselves enough to do the work. I think the same situation exists in terms of hybrid classes or classes with significant online components -- students who have good organizational skills don't seem to have difficulty and appreciate the flexibility, students who don't have good organizational skills have the same problems that they do in f2f classes.

What advice do you have for people just starting out teaching hybrid classes?
  • Don't try and do it all at once! Pick one online tool that you are going to use, or have student use, and incorporate that, getting comfortable with it before adding something else (and then only if you need to)
  • Write your course goals first and choose the best course format to meet those goals. Don't "do online" because its trendy, do it because it makes sense for the learning goals in your course.
  • When establishing discussion groups 3-4 students works best. More than 4 and you have a hard time keeping up and students have a hard time providing novel ideas.
  • If possible request someone who has done it to share their site so that you can see some of the many options you have.
  • Give a lot of thought to the online discussion component. There are multiple ways to structure these and various ways that they can be useful. Expect some experimentation and learning on your part. For example, an online discussion that is very specific will be redundant in a class discussion and some students will even read responses and then cut and past their own based on what they've read. If there are a lot of students in the online discussion, you could give some thought to asking a broad question with many variations, possibilities, opportunities for personal application, etc.
  • The role of the instructor can work in a variety of ways in an online discussion. Some online discussions have a heavy instructor presence with the instructor continually giving feedback, asking questions and guiding discussion. Some online discussions might function better as more student-driven with students doing this. Some online discussions might work well if the instructor monitors the discussion and then adds new threads that challenge themes that students have identified.
  • You can ask the students what kinds of things they want to do f2f and what they prefer doing online.
  • Students give better input in online discussions, but it is very time consuming for instructor
  • I find it faster to type feedback – so I prefer it. I didn’t think I would
  • Have people do things that increase their accountability as learners. Figure out ways to get introverts more involved. I would never teach a class as strictly f2f now.
  • Be student-centered! Referred to book: Bldg Lrgn Comm in Cyberspace…
  • Using Track Changes: I get to keep a copy of my feedback. I can also ask them if I can use their assignment as an example next time – and I don’t have to hound them to get it.
  • Students crave face-to-face even though they are tech savvy. I think they get burned out too with tech. They are even saying they are burned out in Facebook!
  • Plan ahead
  • Set limits with respect to your "availability"
  • Practice the technology in "low risk" assignments
  • Have specific deadlines (just like in face-to-face courses)
  • Don't be afraid to admit mistakes (just like in face-to-face courses)
  • Don't be a hero
  • Start small – one area that they find problematic in their class and work on that. Find one thing that really bugs you because it is taking too much time, effort on your part, isn’t working as you would like it face-to-face
  • When I first started teaching the question wasn’t “how do you deliver this course?” Now you have all these ways of delivering a course. Teachers should consider what options they have.
  • You can do this incrementally – don’t have to do whole hog.
  • I was nervous enough about trying it, almost to the point of my hesitancy with hybrid teaching preventing me from agreeing to teach this particular class. It turned out to be not as bad as I thought it would be, and so my advice is to just try it. I think I was in a sense scared off from the examples of all that you can do with hybrid/online learning - the range and almost explosion of online possibilities that could be incorporated - almost making me think I had to do them all or try and learn all sorts of new technologies - but when I figured out it was OK, for example, not to use threaded discussions, the idea seemed more manageable - I needed to try it first once and then now I feel I have a starting level of experience from which to build and expand.
  • Find an online teaching mentor who values what you value. Plan to succeed with a small handful of technopedagogies. And take changes with one or two each semester. That way, students are learning content, process, and connectivity. You're learning the same. And fewer people (including you) freak out due to trying to do too much to quickly and the quality diminishes.
  • It’s like a puzzle, figuring out how the online pieces fit with the f2f sessions – you have to experiment to see how the puzzle pieces fit together best.
  • Be forgiving of yourself.
  • Take risks.
  • After doing a hybrid course once, you will be more organized next time up front. You'll know more about what works best for each part of the course. This first time you do it you build it as you go along. With hybrid, you can “parse things out” differently between the f2f and online parts.
  • Don’t always keep students in the same groups. They learn more from working with others and get new blood, new ideas.
  • Online forum assignments should be about them
  • It’s an incredible amount of work. Have to be clear in explaining things. I learned to do that by NOT doing it well and having lots of questions from students. Now I’m much more clear.
  • I'm very deliberative in my planning. I don’t waste a second of f2f time.
  • Get rid of your family! It is such hard work. Very time-consuming. I spend a whole weekend sometimes working on my online stuff. I’m hooked on it. It’s like Facebook is for some people – I can’t wait to see what someone posts next!
  • Our profession (education) must change. We can’t stand still. Some things simply cannot be done as effectively in f2f settings. For some students, the online part is the first time they have ever felt heard – they just thrive. We have to try to understand what the students need, and meet those needs. They need personalization, individual feedback.
  • Be responsive to students.
  • Make assignments meaningful.
  • Use critical reflection to get people engaged. After reading assignment, have them post about what assumptions of theirs this article challenged.
  • People are vulnerable when they post things online. Be sure to watch how groups respond to and work through disagreements. Watch whether and how they support each other.
  • Be flexible. (people get Moodled out) I have 2-week units. 1st week, I have students just read and think the questions, and then the second week post and respond to other posts. So they don’t have to be online all the time.
  • People want immediate responses… Used to require people to respond to 2 posts from other students. Now I don’t have to do that. People get hooked, want to see what others say.