Hybrid College Courses

An increasing number of colleges and universities are offering hybrid courses. A hybrid course is an alternative to both face-to-face teaching and strictly web-based classes because it typically involves roughly 50 percent of each. Portions of the class take place in a physical classroom, while other portions involve learning online through a web-based learning program such as WebCT.

  1. Class Schedule

    • A typical hybrid class breakdown includes in-person lectures, seminars or meetings and online communication through an academic web program such as WebCT or Blackboard. Through these web-based programs professors and instructors can post lectures, course outlines, documents, quizzes and website links, set up chat rooms for discussion and communicate through email. Sometimes teachers will reserve particular times for meeting online. They can conduct these meetings through a chat room where they type to students or stream a live video of themselves via a webcam.

    Supporting Research

    • Studies show mixed results on the success of hybrid college courses. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's faculty claimed its students learned more from and produced higher quality assignments for hybrid courses than for traditional class formats. The Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida reports that students attain higher grades in hybrid courses than in face-to-face and fully online courses. Professor Gordon Hensley at Appalachian State University, however, writes that he observed no difference between the pass and dropout rates between face-to-face courses and his pilot hybrid course.


    • The main reason educational institutions offer hybrid courses is because of their advantages for students. Hybrid courses offer students more flexibility because they reduce the amount of time students need to be on campus, thereby saving them money as well. Students can access their hybrid courses via the Internet, which also frees up classrooms. Additionally, professors can tailor the format of a hybrid course to the needs of the curriculum.


    • Hybrid courses require all students to be fairly competent with technology. Some students will navigate web-based programs with ease, while other students will become frustrated, which can impede their learning. From the faculty end, Hensley finds hybrid courses more time-consuming than traditional courses because of the amount of emailing and online communication. The National Education Association produced a survey that showed faculty reported online courses require a heavier workload for instructors than face-to-face classes.

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