Faculty Resources

Designing a Hybrid Course

Designing and creating a hybrid course takes time. You can always contact the Office of Digital Learning and Innovation for help. That is what we do. You cannot learn how to do it yourself using a few webpages. However, this site provides a 10,000 foot overview of some of the steps you might think about.  

While there is no right way to design a hybrid course, we do have some general guidelines and tools that may help you to get started developing your course.


Before you begin your course redesign, the first place to start is by reviewing your course learning goals. Course learning goals are broad, measurable and observable statements of what students will be able to do at the end of a course (from Johns Hopkins). They are different than learning objectives which are more specific, measurable statements of what students can do at the end of a unit of instruction. For your course, you should develop both course goals and more specific learning objectives. Below are some points you want to consider:

  • Do they reflect what you hope students will be able to do at the end of the course?
  • Does the Hybrid format change any of the goals or enhance a goal you already have?
  • Do you need to add a learning goal as a result of the Hybrid format?

Here are a few things to think about when reviewing your learning goals:

  • Are your learning goals measurable?
  • What do students have to do to demonstrate their mastery of that learning goal?
  • In what format would this be best done (online/out-of-class or face-to-face) and could this work in multiple formats and how?


Now you can begin to conceptualize what your Hybrid course might generally look like.

In this step, the brainstorming begins. You will begin to think about:

  1. What learning activities and assignments will you be doing?
  2. Where will those take place (online/out-of-class or face-to-face)
  3. How much time will each take?

Backwards Course Design

One way to help get you thinking about your course -- and conceptualize what it might look like -- is to think of it backwards. The process is "backward" because it defies traditional methods of course design that start with thinking about what content should be "covered."

There are three stages of backward design:

  1. Identify desired results: Desired objectives that students should achieve and outcomes students should be able to perform.
  2. Determine acceptable evidence: Determining how you will know/what evidence you will need to determine if a student has achieved understanding and proficiency of course content.
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction: Your course activities.

Vanderbilt University's Center for Teaching outlines Backward Course Design in detail and provides links to other resources.

Course Structure

Structuring a hybrid course is one of the biggest challenges when thinking about hybrid course development. We have found that modules typically work best for designing your hybrid Canvas course. You can create modules for each week (usually best) or by topic. A hybrid (and online) course needs to be well organized to help students be successful.

Think about how you will assess your student. What evidence will you gather to determine what students are learning? Assessments can be formal (high-stakes) or informal (low-stakes) and can include a wide variety of assessments including writing assignments, lab work, homework, discussions, tests, quizzes, projects, presentations, eportfolios etc.

What learning activities will you use? Determine activities that would work well in a face-to-face environment and in an online (or out of the classroom) environment. One general tip is you want to maximize active learning and social interactions in the face-to-face environment since social presence can be harder to maintain in the online environment. Also, you want to be sure that your face-to-face portion of your course informs your online portion of your course and vice versa so it feels like a cohesive whole.


With your basic course structure in place, you can now begin to build your course in Canvas, or in an alternate online space. A good first step is to create the syllabus.

Hybrid Course Syllabus

When creating your hybrid course syllabus, consider adding the following sections:

Course Structure

  1. Overview of the course structure and an explanation of what will happen face-to-face and what will happen online. For example
    • __ % of time face-to-face as well as what activities students can expect (lecture, group discussion, class projects, etc.)
    • __ % of time online/out of class and activities students can expect (readings, watching lectures, quizzes, group projects, videos, chat, discussion forums, email, journaling, blogging, wikis, etc.)
  2. Explicitly state your attendance and/or participation policy. Remind students participation in both in-class and online/out-of-class work is required.
  3. In the syllabus or weekly schedule include specific dates and times for on-campus class sessions as well as building and room locations. If online or out of class sessions will be held at a specific location or using a particular technology, indicate this as well.
  4. In syllabus or weekly schedule include a breakdown of which components of the course will be online and/or out of class as well as which will be face-to-face. This will help illustrate for students what is expected of them and when.