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Hybrid or Blended Teaching Formats: What and Why - Lingering Questions PDF-NOTE: Internet Explorer Users, right click the PDF Icon and choose [save target as] if you are experiencing problems with clicking. Print

I cannot claim, nor will I, that every problem with my classes was solved. I still have students showing up for class discussions ill-prepared and unwilling to actively learn (especially after week twelve of a sixteen-week semester). I can say, however, that I was shocked that the results far exceeded my expectations.

When I first moved to this pedagogical strategy, Missouri State University had a very robust center for teaching and learning, which would help faculty with some very detailed assessments of their courses. Their assessment showed that students felt more comfortable talking about the material both in and out of class and would engage with their fellow students in discussions about the course content. Students felt as though they had been given more control over their learning, and consequently, they were more committed to learning the material. In other words, they were more active in their own education. In addition to this more detailed (and useful!) assessment of my courses, my regular student evaluations have improved, and, all the while, the rigor of my courses has remained the same. Anecdotally, I had a student enter one of my courses who expressed extreme disappointment that lectures would be online. However, he got good grades and ended up taking another one of my hybrid courses. When I asked him about this, he said that I had “converted” him, and that actually the hybrid format worked pretty well — better than he had anticipated.

I want to close with an observation and a caution. A colleague of mine, who has distinguished himself on our campus throughout his career as being one of the best teachers at the university, once said to me that we must all “teach through our personalities.” Simple but true. This approach to my courses worked because, strange as it may seem (what some may call eccentric or worse, I call “a unique sense of charm”), I am comfortable sitting alone in a studio, with no one and nothing there but a camera, talking about the Hebrew Bible. In fact, without students in the room, I am less distracted by their reactions, or lack thereof, and better focused on communicating the subject. But this is a function of my personality.

The flip side of this point, obviously, is that videotaping lectures and course content is not for everyone, which is the caution. Teachers who are by their very nature engaging in front of a classroom, especially those who find the classroom energizing, do not face the problems the hybridization of my courses sought to resolve. I would not encourage them to follow my lead, at least in regard to videotaping their lectures. Indeed, there are a lot of ways to engage students in meaningful learning activities online, and so perhaps other methods of blending course delivery would be in order.

Finally, creating a hybrid course does not reduce course preparation, nor does it allow a university to increase class size while holding teacher workloads steady. In fact, preparing to tape my lectures was a massive undertaking, and lectures must be updated on a regular basis. The only advantage that I have found is that hybridization of my courses allowed me to move the teacher-centered content to the Internet, increasing the amount of student-centered interaction in the classroom. For me it has just been a better way to parade the material before the students in an organized fashion, allowing more and better opportunities for the students to invest their time, talents, passion, and energy into learning.


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