Learning Curve

The way I have structured my hybrid course is that I teach 2 hours a week in one face-to-face block in a traditional classroom setting, and move hour 3 out of the classroom and online. My preferred option so far has been developing Blackboard “modules” because it seems the simplest way to move students through what is often a multi-modal class where they have multiple tasks that include journals, blogs, asynchronous discussion boards, quizzes, and electronic assignments.

For the first two classes, I booked a lab for the “hybrid” portion, a luxury I would not have in the fall semester, but which was extremely helpful in assisting those students struggling with or resisting the technological aspects of the course. I am noticing more buy in with hybrid as students become familiar with the course and the expectations, and that is comforting. Now I am just available during the scheduled class hour, and students can contact me or message me for assistance or discussion. It’s almost like private office hours just for that one class.

I suppose what I am getting at here is that taking the time to set students up for success is a crucial step in hybrid courses. Having flexible deadlines for the first few weeks has proven extremely beneficial as it takes the pressure off students who are struggling to access and/or complete the hybrid material. The down side is that without firm deadlines, some students will leave things until the last minute….we have had a short discussion every week in class regarding the self-motivation needed to be successful online, but there are still a number of students with outstanding weekly tasks. This too, is part of the learning curve.

In addition to the regular curriculum, teaching in a hybrid format, especially while it is still so new, needs to include a focus on teaching how to be a successful hybrid student. It doesn’t have to take a great deal of time, but I found it helpful to review the hybrid curriculum weekly with students for issues, concerns, and troubleshooting. I am also carefully monitoring student completion of the hybrid material, and following up with students who may be at risk. It’s worth remembering to build time to do all that into the first month.

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