What are Hybrid Classes and How Do They Work?

It is no secret that online classes have become incredibly popular in recent years. They have grown from one or two classes at a few institutions to entire degree programs and online-only universities. While there are definitely benefits to online-only classes, there are also some downsides – including the inability to meet your classmates or professors face-to-face.

This is where “hybrid classes” come in.

What Are Hybrid Classes?

Hybrid classes are defined by universities differently, but generally, they will meet online half the time and in person the other half. Some may define it as a 25-75% split instead, but the idea is that they are taking the best aspects of online learning and the best aspects of traditional classes. This combination allows for an all-inclusive learning experience for many students. 

How Do Hybrid Classes Work?

Here’s an example:

A traditional 3-credit course would typically meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half each time in the classroom. A hybrid course, instead, may meet online on Tuesdays and in person on Thursdays. 

Other hybrid classes may allow you to take the online portion of the class when it is convenient for you each week, rather than at any specific set time. It could also be made up of online assignments, discussions, and projects rather than an actual class per se.

It’s important to note that schools and even individual professors can have vastly different takes on how hybrid classes work. If you ever have any questions about what to expect from a hybrid course before you sign up, be sure to reach out to the appropriate department or instructor ahead of time so you can ensure the setup is ideal for your education and learning preferences.

Are Hybrid Classes Right For You?

While hybrid classes offer students a great alternative to solely traditional or online classes, they are also not right for everyone. Here are some benefits and downsides to both.

Pros of Hybrid Classes

As a balance between traditional and online learning, hybrid classes offer several unique benefits that you wouldn’t get with other course structures.

Lectures Are On-Demand

By presenting most of the lecture content via the online portions of the class, students can go back and rewatch or review the information at any given time – even weeks later. This can be a strong study tool or resource for students that may be having trouble in class.

This can also help students to improve their midterm and final grades because if they are missing a section of notes or can’t make sense of what they wrote down, they can go back and get the exact information they need.

Face-to-Face Time is Spent More Effectively

With some hybrid classes, the lecture portion of the class occurs online. This allows the in-person class time to be used more constructively. These in-person classes can include labs, group activities, in-depth discussions, and more. Students can also use this time to ask the professor questions or work alongside peers.

Multiple Learning Styles Can Be Successful

Every student learns differently. Hybrid classes lend themselves to various styles, as it allows students to learn audibly (through lectures and recorded material), visually (through slides and presentations usually included in the class), or in a hands-on way by collaborating with classmates during the designated in-class time. Those that do well in lectures and discussions get to enjoy the type of environment where they excel, while students who like to have more time to process the information without distractions and interruptions also have the opportunity to do so.

There is More Flexibility than in Traditional Classes

The main draw of any online learning opportunity is the amazing amount of flexibility offered to students. Especially when it comes to scheduling. Hybrid classes do require time spent face to face, but the amount of time in the classroom is significantly less than in traditional classes, allowing students to balance work, a social life, extracurricular activities, or even attending office hours for other classes.

They Make a Great Stepping Stone to Online-Only Classes

If you’re considering taking online-only classes, hybrid courses offer a great intermediate step. Adjusting to online learning can be difficult if you don’t have any experience. Taking a hybrid class is a good way to test the waters and see if online classes are the right fit for you before you jump in with both feet.

Cons of Hybrid Classes

Although there are a lot of benefits, hybrid classes are not perfect for everyone. They require strong time management skills and can be tough to fit into a schedule if your in-class time is just once a week. Here are some other things to consider before enrolling in a hybrid class.

Hybrid Classes May Require More Work

The important thing to remember is that the online component of class does not count as homework. It merely replaces the class period that you don’t have to physically attend. You will still be expected to complete the same amount of work that you would if you were in a traditional class. The general rule is 9-10 hours a week of homework for each 3-credit class, so make sure you’re factoring that time into your schedule as well.

There are Some Aspects of Hybrid Class Schedules that Aren’t Flexible

Online classes are flexible. The content is always available and as we mentioned above, this is a huge benefit of hybrid classes. But the in-class sessions are just about as flexible as a traditional class (which means they’re not!). With many professors using face-to-face time for more in-depth discussion and explanation, attendance is incredibly important.

Hybrid Courses Require More Responsibility and Commitment

Time management is just as important to hybrid classes as it is with courses that are taught 100% online. Plan to set aside at least an equivalent amount of time for your face-to-face sessions to complete the online components. If you have trouble setting a schedule that allows you to get everything done or you’re a master procrastinator, think hard about if hybrid classes are right for you.

Hybrid Classes Can Be New for Some Professors

Many professors and schools are still relatively new to offering hybrid classes. As such, they don’t have all the kinks worked out in some cases. There may be technology struggles, or the professor may have a hard time translating what they once taught in class to the screen. Taking a look at online reviews of a professor or asking students who previously took the hybrid class can help you gain some insight. But if the class is a first-time hybrid offering, you might just be a guinea pig.

Should You Take a Hybrid Class?

If taking a hybrid class is an option, it’s important to weigh both the pros and cons, but also your learning preferences and academic goals. Some classes aren’t suited for a hybrid learning environment, even if it’s offered.  Or, the course may be central to your degree or major. In this case, you might gain more from attending a traditional class. And for some classes, they could be entirely taught online, making the traditional portion of the course feel like a waste of time.

Doing your research is one of the best ways to determine if a hybrid course is right for you. You will want to talk to students who already took the class. Whether it was a traditional, online, or hybrid course, review the course material, and look into how your institution handles hybrid classes as a whole. This will help you make an informed decision about your education. 

It’s important to note though that some classes, especially going forward, may only be offered as a hybrid course. If this is the case, you may have no choice in the matter. Especially if your degree requires that class.

Hybrid classes do mix the best of both worlds when it comes to traditional and online classes, and for many, this combination can work in their favor. Others are better suited to all traditional classes or all online courses. Giving thought to your strengths and weaknesses will help you decide if it’s the right course of action for you!

Some majors suit hybrid classes more than others. If you’re deciding between areas of study, College Raptor’s College Major search tool can help you identify your options as well as some of the best schools for your education and career goals.

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