Home Spotlight on Teaching Hybrid or Blended Teaching Formats

Hybrid or Blended Teaching Formats: What and Why - “Why?”: The Benefits of a Hybrid Model PDF-NOTE: Internet Explorer Users, right click the PDF Icon and choose [save target as] if you are experiencing problems with clicking. Print

As strange as it may sound, I restructured my classes in this fashion in order to increase, not decrease, my face-to-face interaction with my students, as well as to increase active, not passive, student learning.

For years I had been frustrated with the quality of classroom interaction with my students. My student evaluations have always indicated that I was approachable and friendly, but in class, I could not get students to ask questions or offer ideas or solutions to problems. I felt that the classroom time with students was passive in nature, in which I alone dispensed energy and information. I am also convinced that learning is something that happens between the ears of students, and is dependent upon the time, talent, energy, and passion that they bring to the subject matter. I as the teacher can be organized, approachable, and place my interest and passion on display, but in the end, whatever gets learned — any real outcome — is produced by the student her/himself.

I remain unwilling to give up lectures altogether, because past experience indicates that without me providing some historical information and context — information that students do not know — class discussions become something akin to a “what-the-Bible-means-to-me” conversation. I have tried learning-communities in my classes, in which students were responsible for bringing content to the class, but there were still “quality-control” issues (e.g., students confusing Sumerian and Samaria, presentations based on the “Brick Bible” — Bible stories told using Lego blocks, YouTube videos of questionable value, and the like). How could I walk students through some basic background information and expect them to come to class understanding its relevance for the biblical texts that we would be discussing in class? This was my problem.

The hybridization of my courses seemed to offer the solution. In terms of lecture content, if I were going to take the role of a “talking head,” why do it in front of a bored classroom of students? By videotaping my lectures, I could minimize my talking head, setting it off into a corner of the computer screen, with pictures of cool ancient Near Eastern artifacts appearing in the PowerPoint slides in the center of the screen. Then when I met with my students, I could assume that they knew the relevant background material they needed to know and the classroom discussions could focus on their thinking through the data (i.e., the biblical text and the ancient Near Eastern materials), with me there only as a conversation partner. Even better, in a discussion with one student, I could turn to the other students and bring them into the conversation.

So much for the “Why” question.


This website contains archived issues of Religious Studies News published online from March 2010 to May 2013, and PDF versions of print editions published from Winter 2001 to October 2009.

This site also contains archived issues of Spotlight on Teaching (May 1999 to May 2013) and Spotlight on Theological Education (March 2007 to March 2013).

For current issues of RSN, beginning with the October 2013 issue, please see here.