EDU 520: F2F, Hybrid & Online Learning Environments

There are three primary formats which can be used to design, develop and implement learning environments:

  • Traditional or Face-to-Face (F2F)
  • Hybrid (Web-Enhanced)
  • Distance or Online (Web-based)

In F2F learning, “lectures are the main vehicle for transmitting knowledge from teacher to student” (Bates & Watson, 2008, p. 39).  Lectures take place orally and at the board, while students sit back and listen.  The professor normally spends a significant portion of course preparation time on lecture development.  Effort is made to make the lectures interesting and informative.  Homework can be assigned from textbooks and handed in on paper.  Testing is done primarily in class and is based on lecture material, as well as on the homework given to students.  Traditionally, grading is done by hand.  Teachers can keep many office hours for students, since students can meet their instructor in person, or ask him/her questions additionally online or on the phone.  This learning environment has traditionally been teacher-centered.

Online learning traditionally consists of teacher(s) and students never meeting face to face.  Instead of the traditional lecture, online courses may ask students to look up resources (articles, videos, blogs, etc.) to read or view.  Teachers spend more time designing the course and assigning weights for assignments, than preparing lectures.  Homework could consist of students having to post to a threaded discussion or blog, or create a project.    Traditional paper-and-pencil tests are replaced by individualized projects that need to be submitted by a certain due date.  This cuts down on cheating that could occur with the same standard multiple-choice test given to all students.  Grading is no longer done by hand, but done by a computer, as all assignment are submitted online.  Assignment of grades can be set up using a Learning Management System like BlackBoard Learn.  Office hours for online instructors consist of specific time set aside online by the instructor where students can ask questions during that time.  Students can also email the instructor and wait to hear back.  This learning environment is a learner-centered one, where students must take their own initiative to complete assignments and self-assess their strengths and weaknesses (or not do well in the course).   They must be motivated and learn how to manage time efficiently.  Crawford, Smith & Smith (2008) argue, “[the] distance learner must be able to successfully exhibit the ability to scrutinize his or her own level of performance as well as review and evaluate his or her progression toward meeting the learning objectives” (p. 137).

Hybrid learning is a mix between the two listed above.  Students meet for part of the time in class, and the other part they work with materials online.  Students may be asked to watch videos, listen to audio files, or look up articles at home, then come into class and discuss what they have researched.  Time in class may or may not be spent lecturing, but it could consist of discussing what the student has done on his or her own time regarding researching the online course material.  Homework could consist of researching material online (maybe they have to post to a blog or watch a YouTube video), or traditional bookwork assignments.  Quizzes and tests could either be given in class or online.  Grading could be done by hand or on a computer.  The responsibility for learning is shared between the teacher and student.

teaching 1 F2F

Some effective teaching techniques for F2F learning could be for teachers to:

  • Stick to 3-4 main points in a lecture
  • Vary the presentation format every 15 minutes
  • Provide handouts to summarize lecture material
  • Walk around the room to interact with students
  • Ask students questions every 15-20 minutes to increase participation
  • Incorporate some short in-class exercises every 15 minutes to increase engagement
  • (Most importantly) Convey enthusiasm for your subject material!!

(University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching & Learning, 2013)

This sticks to the traditional lecture-style format, but adds some engaging and motivating tricks for the classroom.  It helps to focus the classroom toward the student, even though the teacher is leading.

hybrid group

Some effective teaching techniques for hybrid learning could be:

  • Students watch a video at home but take a test on what they have seen in class
  • Split students up into groups so that interaction can take place in class and online
  • Have students teach material in class, instead of teachers
  • Teachers set up blog/threaded discussions, and students respond to topic posted

(University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Learning Technology Center, 2014)

Both teachers and learners take responsibility here.

online learning

Some effective teaching techniques for online learning could be for students to:

  • Set up and lead discussions in threads or blogs
  • Find and discuss web-resources, journal articles, videos
  • Be assigned individualized (every person gets a different assignment) projects
  • Complete crossword puzzles as assignments
  • Collaborate on a research paper
  • Students look over and grade each other’s work

(Pelz, 2004, p. 33-46)

This style helps motivate students to keep on track and complete assignments in a timely manner.  It promotes interactivity among fellow students and allows for a student-centered approach.


I am thinking about changing my learning activity a little bit so that it is more digitally-mediated instead of purely focused on computers.  I would like to incorporate something with groups (like the hybrid learning environment does).  I teach in a F2F format in my classroom but I try to incorporate online elements like BlackBoard Learn and PowerPoints to get the focus away from the teacher and move it towards the student as best I can.  I really like the idea of the hybrid classroom setting because it puts more responsibility on the students to take their own initiative to watch videos and complete assignments for class.  Class time can then be used to discuss what students have watched or researched, or to have students do presentations or teach fellow classmates lecture material.  They can also work in groups and be interactive.  I do a little bit of that now, where I have students work in groups to complete math labs and I also have them go up to the board and present a math problem to their fellow students without my help.  Any errors are corrected by their classmates.  I post all assignments and take-home quizzes on BB Learn, so they must become proficient with using online materials.  It behooves teachers to become proficient in the latest technology, since it benefits our students in the long run by using it in the classroom.


How advantageous are hybrid classrooms for students?  Do they retain more material?  Do they end up performing better than in a traditional F2F classroom setting?  (My colleague taught a college hybrid math class last semester and his class performed horribly!  They never showed up to class, they never watched the videos they were supposed to, they received poor grades on their quizzes and tests).  I’m curious about other people’s experiences with hybrid classrooms.


Strategies for Online Teaching:

Teaching College Courses Online vs. F2F:

Merlot II:  Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching:

Hybrid Courses:  Obstacles and Solutions for Faculty and Students:


Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008).  Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses.  Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44.

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008).  Course student satisfaction results: Differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments.  [Article].  CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Pelz, B.  (2004).  (My) three principles of effective online pedagogy.  Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks8(3), 33-46.

University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching & Learning.  (2013).  Planning Lectures.  Retrieved from

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Learning Technology Center.  (2014).  Hybrid Courses.  Retrieved from


Posted on February 6, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. From my experience, hybrid classrooms are only beneficial to the students that take responsibility for their learning and how much they want to get out of the classroom. If the students are not invested in the class and do not take advantage of the opportunities of a collaborative group discussion and the resources found online, then the class will not be successful. By creating lessons that are of the students’ interests, it may be a way to intrinsically motivate the students so that they take the class seriously and are eager to learn more and engage in both the classroom and online setting.

    In college, when taking a hybrid class, I was always more nervous when assignments were done online. I did always feel more comfortable knowing that I would see my classmates and teachers once a week in a formal classroom environment. However, the face-to-face interaction gave me the confidence to participate in online discussions or activities. With the middle school students that I work with, I feel it is essential to prepare them with the necessary skills to engage in a collaborative discussion in class, in order for a hybrid assignment to successfully operate and benefit each student. I feel that by preparing students with the necessary skills to be a participant in a hybrid classroom, it would be beneficial to implement hybrid learning into an educational environment.


  2. I have had 2 experiences with hybrid classes and they have both been beneficial to me as an adult learner. They were both distance experiences where the primary learning was online but there was a required attendance period. I enjoyed the flexibility of learning on my time with the online learning but really enjoyed meeting the other members of the class and having some shared experiences with them. Plus, the learning activities done F2F needed to be done that way to make them successful. However, I do think that it requires good planning from the teacher to make them successful. We learned this week that any online forum of teaching and learning takes more work for the teacher in preparing the course so that it is effective and my guess is that effective hybrid classes take a lot of work to put together.

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