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Guide to Hybrid & Online Teaching at JMU

Consider hybrid teaching options

iconOn this page, you'll find the basics on teaching hybrid classes at JMU. 

Sections on this page (select one to jump to a section):

What are hybrid courses?

Hybrid courses combine traditional classroom activities with other learning activities, such as online instruction or experiential learning. In hybrid courses (also called blended courses), "not only is face time replaced to varying degrees by online learning, but also by experiential learning that takes place in the community or within an organization with or without the presence of a teacher; and as a pedagogy that places the primary responsibility of learning on the learner, with the teacher’s primary role being to create opportunities and environments that foster independent and collaborative student learning" (Caulfield, How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course [available as an e-book from JMU Libraries], Stylus, 2011).

How does JMU define "hybrid courses"?

JMU defines hybrid courses as such: "During formal instruction, the instructor and learner occupy the same physical space less than 50% of the time. There would be limited WebEx of any of the instruction – rather, the course delivery would be a combination of live interactions between and faculty and students and other delivery modes of material" (from the June 18, 2020 Request to Teach Remotely form). These hybrid classes can be taught with a variety of pedagogical approaches supported by technologies. See sample MyMadison class descriptions for hybrid courses below.

Key questions for hybrid course design

  • Can the class be split in two, so that half attend in-person and half attend via synchronous online sessions on one day, then they switch modes on the other day?
  • How will learning objectives be fulfilled with class activities without face-to-face (F2F) time in a physical classroom space? How will asynchronously structured interactions ensure the fulfillment of learning objectives?
  • How clearly is the class schedule laid out as weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly activities with due time so that the split of F2F and online asynchronous time can be optimally used to engage student learning?
  • How mandatory is physical space to a class, such as a ceramic studio, science laboratory, or use of high-cost instruments?
  • What benefits can result in student learning when both the in-class and live online students connect in real-time?
  • How prepared are asynchronous content of a class, including content presentation and learning assessment in a learning management system like Canvas so that the following sample split can possibly happen with a smooth transition?

Best practices for teaching hybrid courses

  1. Consider an appropriate mix of content delivery types. Courses can be designed to allow for a combination of asynchronous and synchronous activities. 
  2. Offer a clear schedule of weekly/daily activities that will occur in and out of the classroom.
  3. Utilize Canvas Groups to enable clean communication with the subset of a class who will attend in-person, online synchronously, and online asynchronously respectively. 
  4. Know the technology needs of your students (in terms of hardware and internet connectivity) so that you can make adjustments if technical issues arise.  

Sample schedules for hybrid courses

If you would like to see how other faculty members have designed their class schedule for hybrid delivery, please see below. All are shared with permission.

Sample MyMadison descriptions for hybrid courses

Below are four sample statements that can be used for a hybrid class entry in MyMadison Class Notes and/or Class Description. The purpose of these samples is to help students understand how a hybrid class will be taught in Fall 2020, as defined by JMU Academic Affairs:

  • Sample 1: This class is hybrid, combining in person face-to-face class activities in a classroom with online learning, focusing on core learning objectives of the class. According to the class schedule, students will participate in face-to-face activities and also participate online by watching live or recorded class sessions, reviewing, critiquing, and synthesizing notes, textbooks, articles, websites, or other written materials; engaging in online discussions with their peers; reviewing interactive course content and interacting with instructors during online office hours; or completing group activities or projects using online collaboration tools such as shared documents or video conference meetings. 
  • Sample 2 (Deliver content and lectures online and engage in interactive learning activities during in-person/face-to-face class time as scheduled): This class is hybrid, combining in person face-to-face class activities in classrooms with online learning, focusing on core learning objectives of the class. Students are expected to read materials, watch recorded lectures and videos online via Canvas, and ask questions via Canvas or during in-person face-to-face classes. At the scheduled in-person or face-to-face class time, students and the instructor will complete activities, such as clinicals, studio work, labs, discussions, and other coursework. Assignments, quizzes, exams, and assessments may happen online or in person face-to-face. 
  • Sample 3 (Alternate in-person/face-to-face class time with instructor and online learning as scheduled): This class is hybrid, combining in-person face-to-face class activities in classrooms with online learning, focusing on core learning objectives of the class. A class alternates between 50% of the class attending in-person face-to-face during class time with the instructor, while the other 50% of the class participates in the scheduled class virtually and performs scheduled online individual coursework or group projects. Then the class groups switch with the 50% who were participating virtually attending in person face-to-face and the 50% who were participating in person face-to-face switching to virtual participation. The alternating schedule will be determined by the instructor.
  • Sample 4 (Provide class-specific in-person/face-to-face learning and online learning as scheduled): This class is hybrid, blending in person face-to-face class activities in the classroom with online learning, focusing on core learning objectives of the class. All students in this class are expected to attend in-person face-to-face class sessions, as determined by the instructor and communicated to the class, and participate in online learning activities by completing readings, reviewing recordings, watching videos, completing assignments, engaging in discussions with the instructor and peers, conducting group projects, etc. Assignments, quizzes, exams, and assessments may happen online or in person face-to-face.

Note: These sample statements were collaboratively provided by faculty from JMU Libraries, the Center for Faculty Innovation, the College of Education, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Science and Mathematics, the College of Health and Behavioral Studies, the School of Communication Studies, the School of Integrated Sciences, and the School of Art, Design, and Art History, and based on resources such as Hybrid and Online Learning from the Center for Teaching Innovation at Cornell University and Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms from the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University.

Further reading on hybrid courses


Find more topics in this guide on the A-Z Page List or in the menu.