OSU amps up hybrid-course development to give students 'best of both worlds'

As universities nationwide continue to see positive outcomes in student learning and success through the use of hybrid or “blended” courses, Oregon State this month launched its own Hybrid Course Development Pilot Program.

A hybrid course, by definition, includes both regularly scheduled, on-site classroom meetings and significant online components that replace at least 50 percent of regularly scheduled class meeting time.

And now OSU is testing the waters.

“On campus, many of us also use online enhancements for our classes, but now we have an opportunity to work together in a cohort to bring the best of online and campus together in blended learning,” said Sara Jameson, an instructor in the Department of English and one of the pilot program’s participants.

“Many say that the blended classroom provides the ‘best of both worlds’ for all student learning styles. It's not enough to just tack them together into a course-and-a-half format. We need to really think strategically."

Operated by the Center for Teaching and Learning with support from Ecampus, Oregon State's hybrid course program will examine best practices for teaching blended courses. Program coordinator Cub Kahn, who previously taught in OSU's Department of Geosciences, said these courses "potentially offer scheduling flexibility to students and instructors, reduced classroom space demands and enhanced learning."

The faculty in the program this term are participating in a learning community that meets every other week to complement group interaction and the use of learning resources on a community Blackboard site. This approach intentionally mimics a hybrid course.

Ecampus will assist hybrid faculty particularly with the development of the online components of their hybrid courses.

OSU’s hybrid pilot program is providing faculty stipends, funded by the Office of Academic Affairs, and instructional design support for approximately a dozen faculty who are redesigning existing undergraduate courses this year for hybrid delivery.

"It's really exciting to see OSU moving forward with hybrid courses," Jameson said. "Our Ecampus classes are really special and an excellent option for distance – and local – students. The support staff helps instructors make the materials really accessible and engaging."