Q&A: What Is a Hybrid Course?

Answer: This is a great question. Also known as blended courses, hybrid courses combine online learning and face-to-face interaction or "seat" time. The hybrid model can offer positive aspects of both types of instruction and provide a way for students to transition into online education.

Hybrid courses usually alternate between online and seat time, with a variety of options. For example, if a class is 12 weeks long, the first day is usually in the classroom. The instructor and students get a chance to introduce themselves and the instructor gives an overview of the course content, policies, assignments, grading and overall expectations. If it sounds just like a typical college course, that's because it is. However, in week two, the students may meet online rather than in the classroom. The following week (week three), the students could be back in the classroom.

Some courses may also include self-paced work or projects outside of class meetings, requiring students to complete and submit discussion questions, assignments or quizzes online. As with any educational format, there are pros and cons to this instructional style.

One of the pros (probably the biggest) is having physical access to your teacher and the ability to ask questions and comment, face-to-face. College students may need clarity on assignments from time to time, and some might find it confusing to ask questions by email or in a chat room. With a hybrid course, students have physical access to the teacher on a regular basis. Also, since the students have met the teacher, it's possible some individuals may feel more comfortable asking questions or requesting assistance.

Another pro to taking hybrid courses is that you don't have to attend physically 100% of the time. Let's go back to that 12-week course. For classes that alternate, this could mean six online classes and six face-to-face classes. However, some hybrid courses call for more time spent online than in the classroom. An example is meeting in the classroom once per month and having three online classes each month.

One con to hybrid courses is that this only works for students who live near the school or college. Since seat time is required, location makes a difference. Another con is that this may be a challenge for students who do better in the classroom or are not comfortable with online learning technology.

Colleges and universities offer multiple options for students, and it's important for students to be open to different ways of learning. Taking a hybrid course might give you the chance to find out what works best for you.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!