Avoid a common pitfall of hybrid course design: Insist on being the “sage on the stage”
The real pitfall of insisting on being the “sage on the stage” in a hybrid course is that the online portion of the course may become a “poor” replication of many excellent virtual learning sources that are readily available on the Web. As a result, the perceived value of the hybrid course could be surprisingly low from students’ standpoints. To avoid this pitfall, I started by asking myself a question: What is it that I can offer but that students cannot learn elsewhere? And what I’ve found so far is primarily about the connection between the knowledge taught in the textbook (primary course material) and what’s happening in the world.
Take the 2007-2009 global financial crisis as an example. There are abundant online videos and even storytelling movies (e.g., The Big Short (2015)) that educate the audience, in an entertaining way, about what has happened during the global financial crisis. The textbook authors’ approach, however, is to use an economic theory—asymmetric information—as a framework to offer a systematic explanation for the cause and consequence of the financial crisis. Obviously, the textbook’s approach is not entertaining at all and perhaps even boring to many students. To combat boredom and stimulate discussions among students, my hybrid course would focus on identifying the connection between the two types of educational sources (i.e., textbook vs. online videos or movies). For example, the hybrid course would focus on guiding students to see why the opening quote from Mark Twain in the movie The Big Short, a quote that the audience rarely pays much attention to, is essentially a paraphrase of a theory-based explanation of the financial crisis. I believe an establishment of such connection would open the door for students to draw more connections among ideas and even stimulate students’ critical thinking ability to evaluate policy implication that perhaps is the current heated debate in the social media. This is just an example that points to a direction to think about when developing a hybrid course.