Planning a Hybrid Class – Pitfalls to Avoid

Similar to a face to face class, many components go into a successful hybrid class, and similar to a face to face class, an instructor has to be aware of potential pitfalls. According to Elizabeth St. Germain, author of Five Common Pitfalls of Online Course Design, one of five common pitfalls is for the instructor to let the course management system (CMS) drive the course design and thinking about the course. To provide an ease with course design, CMS developers provide a template for instructors, so loading course material is not burdensome, but instructors should think beyond the template to make the course more interesting and engaging for students.

Serving only as a template, a CMS does not provide a caution about how much material in the course. Yet, in his tips for an effective hybrid class, Dr. Cub Kahn noted that when considering course material, instructors need to avoid the temptation to add too much material to the course template which can result in developing a class and a half to the dismay of students. This is a worthy note for me. I always feel the temptation of including all those interesting articles and videos.

Another consideration when using the template is to avoid the temptation to just load text as the only learning material. This process simply mimics what students can learn with a text. St. Germain, however, noted that using the computer for its unique capacity along with the internet, with its many resources, can provide a rich learning environment that can more fully engage students which then promotes their deeper learning of the material.

The template also does not provide guidance for how to effectively scaffold students in their learning, and instructors need to think carefully about how and when to present material to maximize learning. Project Kaleidescope 2007 noted that instructors are similar to good parents who raise their kids to be independent individuals who can act on their own. Instructors too must motivate their students to be independent learners. Similar to parents, instructors need to carefully balance getting students to independence and providing an appropriate level of support to get them to independence. While templates provide several tools, such as grades and quizzes, instructors are left to their own judgement how to scaffold students appropriately.

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