Converting a F2F class to a hybrid-learning environment is not the same as uploading a mountain of material to a course site for students to access. To be effective it is necessary to provide guidance, interaction, and feedback to students on an on-going basis. Preparing units for delivery online requires considerations that are unique to that form of delivery (Siragusa, 2000). Student interactivity contributes to positive student learning experiences and is a key to effective instruction. Hybrid instruction combines the best practices of online and classroom instruction; it offers the convenience of the online format without the loss of F2F contact.
In the F2F courses, many of the final decisions about specific activities, assignments, length of time for exercises, and follow-up discussions could be deferred and finalized just prior to the class period. As noted by Schrum and Hong (2002 as cited by Waugh, Caudill, & Chastain, 2006) and Turbill (2001 as cited by Waugh, Caudill, & Chastain, 2006), when putting any course in an online format, every specific detail of the online course must be finalized and programmed prior to the beginning of the course. Before a course is made available online, both the subject matter expert and the instructional designer must review the content, design, and functionality.
In redesigning a course, it is important that the existing course be analyzed to identify the audience, learners' needs, and any barriers to effective instruction. Using an instructional design plan such as ADDIE, provides a guide for the instructional designer to ensure no process is missed. Sound instructional design and effective pedagogy are needed for both F2F and online instruction. No online tools, no matter how flashy or expensive, can rescue a poorly designed or delivered class-- either F2F or online (Volonnino, 2010).
Online teaching is a new experience for most instructors, requiring a reexamination of the online instructor's role. Faculty development is critical to the success of any Web-based education effort. Designing, creating, and implementing effective in-service training is the most efficient pathway to the long-term success of Web-based distance education programs. A key role change that faculty must begin to embrace in order to be effective in the online environment is that of facilitator or mentor rather than dispenser of information. Berge (1995) describes the role of the instructor as wearing four different hats: pedagogical, social, managerial, and technical. He goes on to clarify that not all of these roles need to be carried out in their entirety by the same person. Beaudoin (1990) writes that the distance instructor loses a certain autonomy common in the traditional classroom. In online learning, the instructor becomes a member of a team; subsequently, the instructor no longer has total control of the learning environment.
Student interactivity contributes to positive student learning experiences and is a key to effective instruction. To encourage high student interactivity in an online setting, the learning environment must be supportive, open, and respectful. The facilitator can foster interactivity by providing a detailed syllabus, clear instructions and specific guidelines for assignments, responding in a timely manner to student inquiries, and posting timely feedback to discussion posts. Providing examples of superficial and substantive responses and scaffolding discussions with online resources that represent different viewpoints is also useful.
Beaudoin, M. (1990). The instructor's changing role in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 4(2). Retrieved 12/17/2010 from http://www.c3l.uni-oldenburg.de/cde/found/beau90.pdf
Berge, Z. L. (1995). The role of the online instructor/facilitator. Retrieved 12/17/2010 from http://www.emoderators.com/moderators/teach_online.html
Sira Siragusa, L. (2000). Instructional design meets online learning in higher education. Proceedings of the Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Forum 2000. Retrieved 12/17/2010 fromhttp://education.curtin.edu.au/waier/forums/2000/siragusa.html
Volonnino, D. (2010, December 6). Is e-learning inferior to face-to-face instruction? Message posted to Tech Change (E-Learning Series), archived at http://techchange.org/2010/12/06/is-e-learning-inferior-to-face-to-face-instruction/
Waugh, M., Caudill, J., & Chastain, S. (2006). Going online: Instructor and student perspectives. Paper presented at the Middle Tennessee State University annual technology conference, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, April 2 - 4, 2006. Retrieved 12/18/2010 from http://www.mtsu.edu/itconf/proceedings/MTSU06_Going_Online.pdf