Facilitating the Hybrid Course

Written by Jill Ballard
July 26, 2021 • 2 minute read

Just how different is a hybrid course from other instructional modes? Isn’t it just a combination of regular in-person teaching one day and a Zoom meeting on the other day?

Actually, the truth’s not that simple.

Hybrid learning is a distinct and richer combination of the two modes, requiring changes not only to your course set-up, but also to the way you instruct across class sessions. This is the reality for both the traditional hybrid in-person and asynchronous course instruction mode, and the hybrid in-person & remote mode.

When making the shift to hybrid instruction, one of the areas you'll need to examine is how you’ll teach (or better, interact) with students in the asynchronous class sessions online. Thinking in terms of facilitating rather than teaching for these sessions will help you adjust your role to engage students and help them take more responsibility for their own learning—a key benefit of the hybrid mode. In addition, the pivot to facilitation can expand your practice in in-person class sessions, creating a more cohesive learning experience throughout the hybrid course.

When students navigate through their asynchronous class sessions online, they are engaged in a different way, tasked with making sense of and prioritizing course content and activities in the Canvas course on their own. It’s a student-centered experience by its nature, but they’re not alone. Your role as facilitator comes through a variety of interactions that guide them along the learning experience together. This is often referred to as online instructor presence.

Overall, online course facilitation comprises a range of structures and interactions, starting from the way the course components are sequenced and organized. Your facilitation extends to your lecture and resource videos (even a short “Welcome to Tuesday” overview video) as well as how you communicate through your writing voice in assignment instructions, discussion posts, announcements, and emails. And although there is certainly crossover between teaching and facilitation tactics, understanding their differences can be useful. Here are some characteristics of each:

Teaching Facilitating
Teacher-centered Student-centered
One-way interaction between instructor and students Shared interaction between the instructor and students
Instructor provides direct instruction, controls class progress and learning activities Instructor provides indirect instruction, guides class progress & activities, participates with students 
Instructor lectures Instructor discusses, mediates, and guides
PowerPoint presentations Handouts, scenarios, group activities
Instructor explains course content and its meaning Instructor guides students to discover meaning through course content and activities
Instructor puts the onus of learning on themselves Instructor puts the onus of learning on students

Consider these online facilitation tips for your asynchronous (and remote) hybrid class sessions.

Before the asynchronous class session:

  • Establish a safe space for online communication by posting guidelines and setting an example with your own communication style.
  • Be comfortable with the technology used in the session, for content access and activities, and have the resources available to help students troubleshoot technical problems.
  • Reach out to students before the online class session begins to welcome them, and give any ‘in the moment’ tips to get started.

Through the class session:

  • Encourage participation between students, and with the instructor.
  • Promote learner independence, responsibility, and learner collaboration.
  • Leverage instruction, events, and connections made in the in-person classroom within the online class session.
  • Create interesting and multi-modal prompts for assignments and discussions, using open-ended questions and giving students choices for interaction.
  • In discussion assignments or other collaborative interactions,
    • Create a balance for your communication by allowing and encouraging students to talk to each other, allow them to lead or create discussions when possible.
    • Keep an eye on student interactions and try to encourage those that seem disengaged.
    • Provide the right balance of developmental feedback along the way—quality is more important than quantity.
    • Set aside time for facilitation, to interact within the asynchronous course session, respond to questions, and provide timely feedback.
    • Be responsive to student communications, via email or open discussion questions, and make sure your response time is clear.

After the class session:

  • Consider how you’ll connect online session interactions and learning to and in the next in-person class session.
  • Be willing to reflect on your own experience and use that to continue to adapt and grow your facilitation skills.

Adapted from elearningindustry.com & d2l resources

Teaching Hybrid Professional Communications Courses

Dr. Cynthia Schultes, an adjunct professor of Rhetoric and Language, worked in collaboration with Instructional Design to "hybridize" a Research Methods course for USF's Master of Public Communications program.

Case Study: Teaching Hybrid v.1—Finding Your Technology Threshold

Are you or someone you know finding success teaching with online and hybrid deliveries? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Email instructionaldesign@usfca.edu to share your story.

Here are some educational technologies you can incorporate in your hybrid or online classroom:

Whether you don’t know where to start or have a particular educational technology in mind, we are here to help! To learn how to apply educational technologies to your course, request an Instructional Design consultation.

Contact Instructional Technology & Training to schedule a training session and access self-guided training materials. 


Request Instructional Design Workshops
USF's Instructional Designers offers a series of workshops on enhancing students' experiences in online and hybrid courses using Universal Design for Learning principles and the Quality Matters framework.

For more information, email the Instructional Design team.