How it works

A hybrid (or blended) course combines both face-to-face and online (or remote) instruction/activities. At CalArts, a hybrid course might be internally classified as Hybrid 1, which is a combination of remote and on-campus individual work, or Hybrid 2, a combination of remote and on-campus group sessions. The ratio of in-person vs. remote instruction and activities is not prescribed.

Students who register for hybrid should understand that this course has a required on-campus component that they will do independently or with their classmates according to the instructor of record in the course.

How it appears in the catalog

The course catalog will show one section for your course but with two modalities: Remote and On-Campus. If there is a synchronous component for either modality then a date and timeframe may also be indicated. Hybrid 1 and Hybrid 2 are internal labels for each variation.

I’m teaching a hybrid course. What do I need to know?

The course design approach for a hybrid course should be the same as for a fully online/remote course plus any social distancing considerations you may need to keep in mind in mind for any on-campus activity.

Additionally, the following best practices and strategies will help you plan and design your hybrid course.

Decide what activities happen in-person and what happens remotely.

Examine the learning objectives and outcomes for your course. What would be better achieved face-to-face, and which activities can take place online? While most activities are amenable to either modality, in-person and remote learning have their own respective strengths—review the following table for ideas:

Strengths of in-person learning Strengths of online learning
  • Establishing social presence and support
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Defining assignment
  • Diagnosing students’ conceptual problems with curriculum or assignments
  • Providing immediate feedback, critique
  • Brainstorming
  • Performance, demonstration of psycho-motor skills
  • Sustaining group cohesion, collaboration, and support
  • Reflective, on-task discourse
  • Broader participation in discussions
  • Critical analysis
  • Self-paced learning and practice
  • Self-assessment quizzes with feedback
  • Automatic grading of multiple choice, T/F, fill-in-the-blank tests
  • Share audio and video media designed for the screen

Adapted from: iowa state university's hybrid teaching workbook

Clarify expectations with your students.

Make sure that students understand the equivalence between the amount of work in the face-to-face class and its new, hybrid format. You can include the following text in your syllabus (adapt as needed):

Although we will meet in-person less frequently than in a regular course, this course requires the SAME amount of work. Taking a hybrid course demands a lot of discipline, self-direction, and time management skills. You may be expected to do work outside of class or remotely that may otherwise have been previously been conducted in-class.

Make all assignments and other course expectations as explicit as possible right from the start. In particular, the schedule of in-class and online work should be made very clear; it can't hurt to restate due dates explicitly and repeatedly.

Incentivize doing the online work.

It's important to connect the work students do remotely so that it is central to the experience of the course and expectations around grading. Otherwise, they might skip it.

Avoid creating a "course-and-a-half"

A common mistake of many first-time hybrid instructors is to take the syllabus from a familiar face-to-face class and simply add some online assignments or activities. This mistake produces a "course-and-a-half", resulting in a situation where students are overwhelmed with the amount of material and work assigned to them. Carefully consider the amount of time students spend on your course, both in-class and online, and ensure that the total contact hours sit within the credit hour calculation for that course.

Consider how each modality works together

A hybrid course isn't about just tacking online activities onto a preexisting face-to-face course. Ideally, the face-to-face and online components should flow together to create a cohesive experience for your students, and allow them to engage with your course in deeper and more meaningful ways.

Consider using active learning strategies throughout your course

"When students sit and passively watch or listen to lectures – whether in person or on video – they are not actively engaging with the content. If you think about the difference between your engagement with the topic at hand and merely listening to someone report out on it at a committee meeting versus when you are actively debating the topic with colleagues, you can see the difference. If students are actively involved in the content, they will learn more, be more satisfied, and be more successful in your course."

Source: Iowa State University, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching

A successful hybrid course is student-centered, and has multiple opportunities for students to engage and apply what they have learned. There are many ways for student-student and instructor-student interaction to happen successfully online, using discussion forums or other collaborative tools.

Further Reading
Need help?

If you're planning to teach a hybrid course, we encourage you to sign up for the provided training course, Faculty Training for Teaching Online. You can also reach out to the instructional design team at learnhelp@calarts.edu so we can assist you with your course planning.