Hybrid Teaching at the UO

Hybrid Teaching at the UO

Since 2020, we have all been participating in a mass experiment in faculty development, likely the most extensive in scale and speed in the history of higher education. Academic continuity during the pandemic required our campus community to reconsider what it means to support the whole student, how technology—when used carefully—might enrich the student experience, and why teaching today requires a village of support structures and professional communities. In effect, our experience of the last three years has reawakened the debate around active learning in higher education: How much class time do we really need for lecture? What should students be doing outside of class so they are more prepared to be active in class? And how can we make large classes feel small?

Introducing Hybrid Teaching

To help answer these questions, a group of fifteen faculty at the University of Oregon has been working since the 2022 Summer Teaching Institute to pilot an instructional method, newly defined on our campus, called “hybrid” teaching. With the support of UO Online and TEP, these faculty are deliberately choosing what parts of their teaching work best in-person and what parts of their teaching work best online: by sequencing both instructional methods, they are creating seamless and unique learning experiences for their students. Hybrid courses, in that way, allow us to blend the best parts of in-person and asynchronous online courses. Hence hybrid courses are distinct from synchronous remote, HyFlex, or dual-location because they replace some classroom time with asynchronous online activity for all students. Officially, The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Registrar define hybrid teaching as follows: 

Hybrid classes combine reduced classroom instruction with additional online instruction. All students attend class in person, but the amount of time spent in the classroom is reduced from the standard number of meeting hours per credit and replaced by online learning activities.” 

Whereas many of us had to make the best of “emergency remote education” during the pandemic, hybrid teaching is something altogether different: an opportunity for us to solve problems and focus on what we do best. Would recording your lectures give you more time to focus on live demonstrations or performance in person? Would your discussions be more productive if your students worked together to annotate their readings before showing up to class?  To be sure, the joy of hybrid teaching is the creativity it affords us to tailor our teaching to our own strengths and discipline. It helps us solve recurring problems around active learning, student engagement, flexibility, and spontaneity: we can build in-person rapport and privilege engagement while also offering students some flexibility. So when students show up to class, they have more reason to be excited because the time spent is focused and high-impact.

Diagram of two-week in-person and asynchronous sequence

Figure 1: An example of a two-week sequence of in-person and asynchronous instruction. 

Hybrid Faculty Spotlights

Hybrid teaching is all about blending your in-person and online instruction so students move effortlessly from one modality to the next, with one informing the other. Hybrid teaching, therefore, is a fundamentally creative process that gives you the freedom to pick and choose what best serves how you would like to structure your time and the time you spend with your students. For that reason, no two hybrid courses are alike. Below, we are delighted to spotlight three faculty who are leading the creative process in hybrid teaching at the University of Oregon.

Please note: below each faculty spotlight is a green "example" bar. To see the example of a hybrid strategy the faculty uses, simply click anywhere on the green bar.

Spotlight: Kara Clevinger, English

Kara Clevinger teaches in the Composition Program’s First-Year Writing sequence that serves over 7,000 students each year. Students come in with varying levels of preparation and comfort, some who are self-motivated and thrive in a fully asynchronous class and others who do their best in a fully in-person class. Because writing is such a personal expression, and because peer-review requires so much inter-personal trust, Kara hoped to accommodate both by designing a hybrid course. According to Kara, she can already see how the hybrid model is “deepening their engagement with, and understanding of, course material—improved submission rates and better performance on assignments—and how it helps them see the connection between all the parts of their learning (readings, lectures, discussions, and writing).”

Kara’s challenge, then, is how to communicate a clear sense of continuity—a “throughline”—connecting each week’s asynchronous writing assignments to the in-person activities. She has also found it challenging to figure out how to get the most out of the in-person time, which she reserves mostly for collaboration and workshopping. Pair that with making connections back to the asynchronous activities and forward to the next writing assignment, and “It turns out it’s a lot to do in fifty minutes!” Even so, this constraint has invited her to be more deliberate about how best to use face-to-face time, which in her experience has made the in-person time more meaningful and vital.

Kara Clevinger
WR 122: College Composition II
Enrollment: 25 students
Schedule: Asynch + Fri
Example: Communicating the "Throughline" to Students Each Week
Clevinger Week 2 throughline

Figure 2: Kara describes the week's "throughline" in an announcement to her students.

Spotlight: Mike Urbancic, Economics

Mike Urbancic teaches a high enrollment course and wanted to rethink how he engaged his students so they felt seen and excited to work with one-another—which is no easy task in a lecture auditorium with 448 students. Mike came up with a solution that blended in-person lectures with collaborative annotation reading assignments and guided, small-group discussions online. What emerged was a weekly rhythm that scales down the class into smaller groups (7-8 students) for asynchronous activities outside of lecture. Mike says that “it wouldn’t be feasible to run 56 in-person sections of a course, but the hybrid modality allows for a virtual equivalent. The average level of engagement per student ‘at section’ has increased substantially.”

A typical week in EC 201 has students working together to annotate a reading using Perusall in preparation for lecture on Monday and then (every other week) completing a summative mini-exam before lecture on Wednesday. Meanwhile, students watch and listen to the section discussion’s assigned videos and podcasts before Thursday, contribute a response to one prompt from a pool of ten in an asynchronous small-group, asynchronous discussion, then respond to their classmates on Friday. By the end of the week, students have engaged with the material, their classmates, and their instructors at multiple scales with both low-and high-stakes.

Urbancic headshot
EC 201: Intro to Economic Analysis
Enrollment: 448 students
Schedule: Mon / Wed + Asynch
Example: Making a High Enrollment Course Feel Small
Urbancic Perusall assignment

Figure 3: Instructions for the student's reading and collaborative annotation activity in Perusall in preparation for the in-person lecture.

Urbancic discussion assignment

Figure 4: Instructions for the small-group asynchronous discussions where students select one prompt from a pool of ten.

Spotlight: Tim Pack, Music

For his music theory course, Tim Pack records his lectures at the Knight Library Media Studio using the Learning Glass tool to create dynamic video lectures for students to watch before their in-person classes. Tim positions a keyboard in front of the Learning Glass so he can seamlessly move between writing musical score and playing piano, all without turning his back to the students. These recorded lectures capture his instruction just as well, if not better, than what he would do in person: the “greater flexibility,” he has found, “enables my students to learn at their own pace and have a higher quality learning experience during our face-to-face class time”—where he has more time to be spontaneous, perform, and extemporize for his students.

Tim continues to think about how he can improve his hybrid teaching by making both theory and aural musicianship hybrid. For theory, he can use annotation activities to help students prepare for in-person instruction. For aural musicianship, however, he has created questions and strategies to help students aurally recognize concepts in the music—an exercise that prepares students for lab but does not involve listening. Hence he hopes to find "a good balance between questions and listening, so these online activities help our students prepare for our in-person time in the most efficient manner possible.”

Tim Pack
MUS 231: Music Theory V
Enrollment: 48 students
Schedule: Asynch + Wed + Fri Lab
Example: Engaging Lectures with Learning Glass

Figure 5: Recorded lecture using Learning Glass

Would You Like to Teach a Hybrid Course?

Three 3D printed puzzle peaces labeled "Test"

Hybrid teaching at the University of Oregon is an exciting new opportunity for us to teach to our strengths and to draw from an expanded toolbox of teaching techniques. If you want to consider teaching one of your courses in a hybrid format, UO Online and TEP would be delighted to support you through the development process. Because hybrid teaching is still in its infancy at the UO, you will be joining the vanguard of this dynamic new way of teaching and helping to shape our vision for what it will look like on our campus.

To learn more about hybrid teaching, please contact Carol Gering (cgering2@uoregon.edu), the Associate Vice Provost for Online and Distance Education. You can also reach out to UO Online and TEP at any time to schedule a consultation.