Hybrid Learning

Community of Inquiry Framework for Hybrid Learning

As stated on the About Hybrid Learning page, the term "hybrid learning" (a term we use interchangeably with the term "blended learning") names a model of course design that combines traditional, face-to-face class time with online and out-of-class course work. For UW Bothell specifically, we define hybrid courses as those where 25% to 50% of the traditional face-to-face class time is replaced with online or out-of-class work. This differentiates hybrid courses from Web-enhanced courses, which continue to meet during the normal class hours and use the online component to supplement face-to-face time.

In the Hybrid Course Development Institute, faculty participants focus on the "Community of Inquiry" framework for hybrid learning outlined by Garrison and Vaughn (2008) in Blended Learning in Higher Education. The Community of Inquiry model describes three components to successful hybrid teaching and learning: cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence. More specifically, the HCDI focuses on "selecting content," "supporting discourse," and "setting climate."

Venn Diagram about Educational Experience

By finding an appropriate balance between these three components, hybrid course instructors can create a Community of Inquiry among the students and themselves that fosters student engagement by empowering them to become active learners; that is, they become producers of knowledge, rather than passive consumers of information.

Although the Community of Inquiry model also works in a traditional, face-to-face course or a Web-enhanced course, the CoI model is especially useful for hybrid courses. Hybrid courses can provide the "best of both worlds" of face-to-face and online learning. By retaining the in-person class meetings, students and faculty can develop a greater sense of community (or "social presence") than one might find in fully online classes. In addition, the faculty instructor can reinforce and emphasize aspects of the course content by designing activities that are especially suited to in-person discussion and collaboration (cognitive and teaching presence). On the other hand, the online component lends itself to new kinds of student engagement and activities, for example, online written discussions, as opposed to in-person oral discussions; gathering and sharing resources (links, articles, etc.) in a common course space, such as a wiki; and accessing persistent class resources on an as-needed basis 24 hours a day. Each of these activities enable, and sometimes require, different kinds of cognitive, social and teaching presences than the traditional face-to-face classroom. Because teaching best practice suggests that providing a variety of learning activities for different types of student learners enhances learning for all students, the hybrid course format is particularly powerful and has been shown to enhance student learning (Dept. of Education 2009)