Hybrid Learning

Hybrid/Blended Learning

Given the unique opportunities that hybrid (also known as blended) can offer, approach planning thoughtfully. Instructors need to be familiar with not only the strengths of online and face-to-face teaching in their rights but also how they can feed into each other over the longer term. To begin your hybrid/blended course development:

What is important about hybrid/blended learning?

Online environments provide vital spaces for students and instructors to exchange resources and ideas. As you start to think about and develop your hybrid/blended or online course (Online Learning Consortium), keep in mind that some of your face-to-face classroom material may transition easily to an online learning environment, and you may need to rework others. A successful hybrid/blended or online course is an opportunity to create new material and apply innovative teaching strategies.

Why use hybrid/blended learning?

Flipping the classroom and creating a hybrid/blended course engages students in learning through active learning techniques rather than through delivering lectures alone. 

Hybrid/blended learning can also provide more flexibility for students and instructors. It offers varied ways for students to engage in and demonstrate their knowledge.

Some technologies allow for more learning or facilitate a specific learning activity that might not be possible without technology. As a bonus, instructors and students can develop technology skills through hybrid/blended and online learning.

Considerations for using hybrid/blended learning

In-class teaching does not always easily translate to the hybrid/blended or online learning format. 

Allow for time to review and reimagine education. 

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) and copyright guidelines differ slightly for hybrid/blended and online mediums. Follow the FERPA policy and complete the training. Work with the ISU Library for Course Reserves in your classOpen Educational Resources, along with guidance for copyright use. Additionally, read the most up-to-date information about Digital Course Materials on the ISU Book Store website. 

Be proactive with accessibility requirements.

Before students disclose a request for accommodation and should be taken into consideration when designing and developing your course. Use resources from CELT’s Accessible Course Design page.

Consider time on task for both online and in-class activities.

Make sure the online components do not merely make the course more time-intensive. To get an idea of what you are asking students, use the Workload Estimator 2.0 (Wake Forest).

Designing your course

A hybrid/blended learning course takes the “best of both worlds” by combining face-to-face and online learning. Technology may better facilitate some types of learning, and class time can be shortened or used for activities that better lend themselves to face-to-face interaction. An integrated course model accommodates a broader range of learning styles by offering flexibility, more options for learning, and integration of learning activities that lead to more in-depth knowledge. These are just a few techniques that instructors have used to design hybrid/blended learning courses.

  • What learning activities or assessments will provide students with opportunities to develop or demonstrate achievement of the course learning outcomes?
  • Which of these learning activities or assessments would best lend themselves to an online format and which to a face-to-face format? What combination of online and in-class activities would best address the course teaching and learning objectives?

See the Evaluating Teaching and Learning page.

  • Work collaboratively – Wikis and blogs allow students to collaborate flexibly with fewer time and space restrictions. Have students compile a course glossary together, or work in groups to produce a proposal. Collaborative writing exposes students to various writing styles and approaches and provides them with more feedback on their writing and ideas.
  • Prepare for in-class activities – In addition to assigned readings, providing some course content online through video tutorials or documentaries, for example, allows students to preview course material visually. Requiring students to take an online quiz before attending class can be a source of motivation while providing instant feedback regarding their understanding of the material. Use the tools and resources found on the Quizzes and Exams Instructional Strategies page.
  • Engage all students in discussions – Offering students the opportunity to discuss online accommodates a variety of learning preferences. Asynchronous (not confined by time) discussions allow students time to think and reflect before responding. Online discussions provide a means for students, and instructors can always view, evaluate, and build on all contributions. 
  • Develop self-assessment and peer assessment skills – Online assessment tools facilitate ease in giving and receiving feedback. Assignments can be online, and students can post instant responses or email their feedback. 
  • Pick one or two samples of online student work to discuss in more detail in class (e.g., Transparency in Learning and Teaching).
  • Have students present research findings through a presentation or conduct lab experiments.
  • Utilize active learning techniques such as composing quick writing responses, working in pairs to answer questions, searching online for relevant information or clarification, or merely having students compare their notes with or quiz their neighbors.
  • Prepare students for collaborative work with team-building activities that allow students to get to know each other, set expectations, and make work plans. For example, groups can create their processes and procedures for when/if they encounter group problems.

When reviewing or designing a hybrid/blended learning course, ask how the online and face-to-face components work together to address the learning outcomes, accommodate various learning modalities, allow students to engage with the course content in meaningful ways, and lead to deeper learning.

Some examples of integrating online and in-class activities:

  • Online activities can prepare students for in-class activities, and vice versa – Students work online on group projects and then meet face-to-face to plan and rehearse their final group project presentation. 
  • Interacting with content online can prepare students for in-class discussion – Students review content (readings, videos, etc.) and then take an online test before attending the class in which they discuss or debate topics.
  • Online interactions can reinforce or extend those that occur in the classroom and vice versa – Students provide feedback to each other online and then respond to the input in face-to-face sessions. Or students finish a discussion online that started in class.
  • Let online student work inform your lecture – For example, have students post key definitions online for the whole class to edit and refine. Before class, review these, and pick one or two that deserve discussion; address learning issues or best practices (Sands, 2002).

Example of course integration

A hybrid/blended learning format is advantageous to have students engage with course content online, leaving more time in class for active learning. In addition to providing students opportunities to engage with the material in meaningful ways and to interact with classmates in their learning community, class time used to: 

  • Assess student learning more often with classroom assessment techniques. Using index cards, ask students to apply a concept to a real-world situation, or have them write down an essential point of the class and collect their answers to assess their comprehension. For more ideas, see the Classroom Assessments Techniques page.
  • They should provide more feedback by walking around and answering student questions as they work through and get stuck on problems. Before you answer questions, consider posing the issue to the group first.

Things to consider when planning your course:

  • Have regular due date patterns in your class, for instance, a reflective writing due on Thursday afternoon each week. This helps students set up a schedule of participation for your class. Make sure the due dates fit your schedule. That is, schedule due dates for days when you are available for last-minute questions. Also consider when you’d like to do your grading each week to enable rapid feedback.
  • As you create your course schedule, consider stating the actual due dates (e.g., Sep. 28) only in your course schedule posted online, noting them by day and week elsewhere in the course materials, such as a mention in your Week 2 module that a paper will be due by Wednesday of Week 4. This will help you re-use course content with fewer editing requirements in subsequent terms.

Provide clear information to you students to be successful:

  • Explain the rationale for using a hybrid/blended learning approach and list the learning benefits (expect some resistance as students may be out of their learning comfort zones). 
  • Provide an orientation to the technology required in the course and inform students of where to go for additional support.
  • To familiarize students with expectations, start with a “low-stakes” assignment.
  • Discuss time management strategies and communicate expected time-on-task for online learning activities.
  • Have students create a learning plan for the course.
  • Explain assessment, grading, and what kind of feedback they can expect from you and their peers.
  • Provide structure for online activities. For discussions, assign students to respond to specific posts, or for peer feedback, provide guidelines or a rubric.
  • Use the assignment, quiz, and discussion tools in Canvas when possible. These tools streamline assignments for students and instructors by connecting the assignment, student submissions and associated grade center columns.

Compare Traditional Learning vs. Hybrid/Blended Learning

Instructor Role
  • Authority
  • Assesses with quizzes, tests, and papers a few times a semester (“high-stakes” grading)
  • Facilitator
  • Guides students in learning
  • Provides frequent feedback with many small assessments
Student Role
  • Attend class
  • Do homework
  • Take tests
  • Depend on the instructor to cover material
  • Individual or collaborative work
  • More responsibility for learning
Learning Environment
  • Class lectures
  • Perhaps some material is posted or organized online
  • Class time shortened and/or used more for interactive learning activities
  • Class activities partially online and partially face-to-face
  • Teacher-centered
  • Passive
  • Individual
  • Learner-centered
  • Active
  • Collaborative
In-Class Time
  • Class time primarily used for lecturing
  • Less time lecturing
  • More time engaging in active learning activities such as problem-solving, group work, case studies, or presentation
Out-of-Class Time
  • Group assignments
  • Studying for quizzes, mid-terms, and exams
  • Reading text book and other course materials
  • Online learning activities.
  • Online discussions and providing feedback to others’ posts
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or searching for materials
  • Online quizzes
  • Posting reading responses
  • Collaborative writing assignments with wikis and blogs

Explore the instructional strategies and tools

Strategies for students to complete or participate in course work at different times.

Strategies for productive online synchronous class sessions.

Design and facilitate activities for all learning environments.

Teach in ways that are equitable and inclusive in an online environment.

Self-Paced Training for Hybrid Learning


Caulfield, J. (2011). How to Design and Teach a Hybrid Course : Achieving Student-Centered Learning Through Blended Classroom, Online and Experiential Activities: Vol. 1st ed. Stylus Publishing.

Convertini, T. (2020, July 10). The new normal. A case for circular Hybrid Learning. Radici Digitali: Rivista online di Didattica e Umanesimo 2.0. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from https://radicidigitali.eu/en/2020/07/10/the-new-normal-a-case-for-circular-hybrid-learning/

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2007). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Learning Technology Center. (2018). Hybrid Courses. The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Retrieved
October 10, 2018, from http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/ (Retrieved on June 7, 2020, from https://web.archive.org/web/20180223233153/http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/)

Linder, K. (2017). Fundamentals of Hybrid Teaching and Learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2017(149), 11-18.

Perrow, M. (2017). Strengthening the Conversation in Blended and
Face-to-Face Courses: Connecting Online and In-Person Learning with
Crossover Protocols. College Teaching, 65(3), 97-105.

Sands, P. (2002). Inside outside, upside downside: Strategies for connecting online and face-to-face instruction in hybrid courses. Teaching with Technology Today, 8(6). Retrieved from https://www.wisconsin.edu/systemwide-it/teaching-with-technology-today/

University of Central Florida & American Association of State College and Universities. (n.d.). The Blended Learning Toolkit. Retrieved October 10, 2018, from http://blended.online.ucf.edu/

Hybrid/Blended Teaching and Learning, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Hybrid/Blended Teaching and Learning, is a derivative of Hybrid & Online Learning developed by Cornell University’s Center for Teaching Innovation (retrieved on June 7, 2020) from https://teaching.cornell.edu/learning-technologies/hybrid-online-learning.