Week 19 Post

I have some experience with hybrid courses both as a former student and as an instructor – so this week’s readings were interesting and incredibly enlightening! In terms of format for this week, I’m just going with a regular blog post because I am posting from home on my dial-up and embedding anything fancy from here is impossible.

As an undergraduate I took a hybrid conversational Spanish course that required us to meet on campus on four times during the semester and do the rest of our work online with language software and a class website. This was a difficult class for me because we met so infrequently and we had no real classroom continuity online or in person. There were no online discussions required or available and I think that was a detriment to the course. I took this my freshman year and had such a negative experience that I avoided taking any further hybrid courses, although I took and enjoyed several fully online classes.

While teaching at CSUSM I was asked to teach a hybrid freshman English composition course. We had never offered this course as a hybrid, and this particular course was unplanned. The scheduling office accidentally plugged in two 50 minute sessions per week on campus rather than two 75 minute sessions and by the time the error was discovered, no other classrooms were available to move to. So, the decision was made to turn this section into a hybrid course and have students complete work online to make up for the missed on campus time. It was a dismal failure! The students felt duped that they were suddenly in a hybrid course, and any work required of them online was considered “busy work” (as a large # of them noted on my teaching evaluations) which they resented. On my end, I incorporated class readings online and a class blog where students were expected to respond to those readings. I know I could I have developed those better though, and encouraged more engagement in the postings. So, for a multitude of reasons, this was not a positive experience either.

Through my online teaching experience the last two years, this POT program, and my heavy use of web enhanced courses (Ko and Rossen’s terms) – I feel I would be a much stronger instructor if I were offered another hybrid section. I think the key, and it seems others have touched on this, is balance.

Balancing what material is done in class and what is required online is essential. I’ve become very intrigued by course flipping and from everything I’ve read about it, it seems ideal for hybrid courses – even freshman composition courses. The material online needs to be engaging, interactive, informative, and contribute substantively to the workshops I would facilitate in class.The work I would assign in class would need to be focused on the practice of writing, reading and providing feedback to others, and presenting writing to the class. I am suspicious that this flip would not work well for a remedial writing course – at least with me at the healm until I’ve done a run through of a 100 level course.

My two previous experiences with hybrid course were negative but taught me quite a bit about what doesn’t work. Neither course had a developed community and that really affected the student’s (mine included) engagement in the course and grades overall. I see now how the assignments I was given as a student limited my engagement, and the work I assigned as an instructor were well meaning but still fell short due to my lack of engagement in the class. I think I expected my students to go do their online work, and that was a poor attitude on my part. I realize now that I needed to go put in that work too, by aprticipating in the blog, asking them questions, and providing more than superficial feedback. So, ultimately, I look forward now to teaching another hybrid course at some point because I feel much better prepared.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laura
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 02:31:15

    Hi! I think it is neat that you talked about the learning value in seeing what does not work as well as what does work in hybrid classes. I learned from reading your post because of your reflective comments. It makes me think about some recent discussions I have had with people about the idea of “community,” too. Thanks for the post!

    Reply

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