Hybrid learning occurs when face-to-face instruction and online instruction are combined and about 30% to 79% of teaching takes place outside of the classroom (Allen, Seaman, & Garrett, 2007). Hybrid courses aim to combine the best features of face-to-face and online instruction; while face-to-face instruction provides social interaction and builds trust, on-line instruction offers convenience and teaches time management. The pedagogical challenge is how to increase student engagement and enthusiasm in the on-line section of a hybrid class. One way to address the challenge is by raising the quality of on-line discussions, which can be done through the following measures. First, the discussion prompts should either reflect on students’ experiences and expertise, or ignite their intellectual curiosity, or teach them a skill, in any combination. Second, the teacher’s participation should make a significant contribution; for example, it may model for students how to organize and lead a meaningful and focused conversation. Third, students may be assigned the role of discussion leaders, being previously coached for the task through modeling, practice, and feedback. In this way, on-line discussions in a hybrid class would integrate three forms of classroom presence - cognitive, social, and teaching (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008) - and become a valuable, well-grounded pedagogical tool in the absence of face-to-face interaction.
Maria Staton, University of Maryland Global Campus, United States
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