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Hybrid Learning

Best Practices

Remember that the CITL team is here to help! If you have questions, run into issues, or want to talk through ideas, please send a request through CITL to set up a meeting with an instructional designer or email citl@wku.edu. 

  • While many, if not all, students are at least somewhat familiar with the online learning environment, only a few students have experience with hybrid courses and will need extra guidance to understand both the format and your expectations of them. Also keep in mind that students may be enrolled in multiple hybrid courses and the expectations and format may be very different, so clear communication related to course policies will be extremely helpful. Here are some quick tips to keep your students informed.

  • When designing your hybrid course syllabus, please pay careful attention that you are outlining and drawing attention to your expectations for students face-to-face and online portions of the class. For example, what assignments or activities will take place online and what will happen in the face-to-face classroom? Places in the syllabus where you might address the hybrid nature of the course include, but are not limited to:

    • course description,

    • calendar/schedule,

    • assignment descriptions,

    • course policies (attendance, grading, participation, communication, etc.), 

    • technical requirements.

    • Addressing the hybrid course mode in multiple places is best. When examining your polices such as attendance and participation, try to account for the various outcomes that might arise from student illness, changes in state and local restrictions, and/or a move to a fully online learning environment.

    • For an example of a hybrid syllabi and additional information on what you might address in the syllabus, please review the following links.
      • Recommended Guidelines for Your Hybrid Course Syllabus,” Arts & Sciences Support of Education Through Technology, University of Colorado Boulder
      • Psychology 202.002, General Psychology Syllabus – Kathryn Blease, Oregon State University If you are inclined to create a specific section to address the hybrid format, Dr. Blease does an excellent job of addressing course format and the specifics of her hybrid course. She addresses what activities will happen online and face-to-face as well as expectations of student time commitments.

  • Centralize your communication. Since student attendance may be inconsistent due to illness and, depending on your class and classroom size, not all students will be “in class” at once, it is even more important that anything shared verbally with the class is also posted online in Blackboard and/or shared via email. If you choose to utilize Blackboard announcements, you can enable a feature so that any announcements will also be emailed to the class.
  • In thinking about assessing and grading in a hybrid environment, it is important that we are incorporating both formative and summative assessments to gauge our students’ learning. Formative assessments are designed to measure student learning from a more developmental perspective, helping students to identify areas where they need to work and showing faculty where students are struggling. These assessments are typically low stakes and can be something like having students submit a draft for feedback, draw a concept map, journal reflections, short quizzes, peer assessments, etc. Low stakes assignments can individually account for fewer points, thereby making them less intimidating and safer to “mess up” and learn from. Summative assessments are more evaluative in nature and tend to occur at the end of a unit or module to demonstrate cumulative comprehension. For example, exams, papers, projects and other higher stakes, high point value activities.

    In the hybrid environment, it is critical that you develop opportunities for formative assessment in both the online and face-to-face components of your course. Having more frequent lower stakes assignments will help students engage more frequently with the information and will ideally help to increase their self-efficacy and better prepare them for the higher-stakes assignments. To this end, as you are able, you may also consider breaking down your larger, higher stakes assignments into smaller chunks (i.e. multiple quizzes rather than 3-4 larger exams)to provide additional opportunities for instruction, feedback and remediation.
    A big question on everyone’s mind during the current COVID-19 pandemic is how you will administer exams. Many faculty find online testing to be less ideal and intend to utilize scheduled face-to-face time in their hybrid course to administer a traditional test or exam. While this is certainly a valid and understandable choice, it is important to consider the following as you make your decision on whether to administer a traditional test/exam.

    • Social Distance Protocol:

      • Can all your students safely fit into your assigned classroom? If not, are there other spaces available that can accommodate your students? WKU is working on identifying spaces conducive to safe in person testing for larger groups. For more information on what is available to you and what your department’s expectations are, please visit with your department chair.

      • How will students be taking the exam? Will they need technology or will they be using pen and paper? If you plan to have them take an online class in person, will everyone have sufficient technology? How will you account for that? If you have them use pen and paper, how will you have them submit the assignment?

      • What will you do for students who are unable to attend a face-to-face examination due to illness, compromised immune system, etc.? At the time of this publication, there is not an official institutional attendance policy, but we will provide that when/if it becomes available. In the meantime, CITL would recommend that you allow maximum flexibility to ensure a student’s academic progression.

    • Final Examinations

      • All WKU final examinations will be administered online and students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving Break. If you have opted to administer your exams in person, CITL encourages you to look for an alternative way to assess your students learning rather than switch to an online exam format for the final. Changing formats for what is likely to be the most high stakes assessment of the course can lead to increased test anxiety and frustration for your students and is unlikely to accurately assess students’ learning. Should you choose to incorporate an online final exam, please take extra steps leading up to the exam to ensure that students are familiar with the process, format and expectations. For ideas on alternative assessments that you might substitute for a traditional exam, please see Online Testing and Assessment. If you have questions, please email citl@wku.edu.


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 Last Modified 8/3/20