Hybrid and Traditional Course Formats

Hybrid and Traditional Course Formats

Dan Baugher (Pace University, USA), Andrew Varanelli (Pace University, USA) and Ellen Weisbord (Pace University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 6
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch156
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Abstract

The use of technology as a teaching tool, for example, self-paced programmed instruction, has a long history. However, developments in “high tech” support have considerably broadened the choice and viability of alternative learning contexts and the question of the value of technology for learning has been argued on both sides. There are those who assert that technology has no influence on learning under any circumstances (Clark, 1983). Rather, it affects only the cost or extent of instructional delivery. It is the quality of instruction itself that impacts learning (Clark, 1994). Others claim that the characteristics and capabilities of various technologies do indeed interact with learners, and that effects vary based on characteristics of both the technology and the learner (Kozma, 1991).
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Introduction

The use of technology as a teaching tool, for example, self-paced programmed instruction, has a long history. However, developments in “high tech” support have considerably broadened the choice and viability of alternative learning contexts and the question of the value of technology for learning has been argued on both sides. There are those who assert that technology has no influence on learning under any circumstances (Clark, 1983). Rather, it affects only the cost or extent of instructional delivery. It is the quality of instruction itself that impacts learning (Clark, 1994). Others claim that the characteristics and capabilities of various technologies do indeed interact with learners, and that effects vary based on characteristics of both the technology and the learner (Kozma, 1991).

The use of the Internet for the delivery of course material has burgeoned since the early 1990s (Gubernick & Ebling, 1997). In higher education, the Internet is used in the classroom in a range of ways, some more common than others. At one end of the spectrum are courses taught and degrees earned entirely online (The Associated Press, 2004). At the other end are traditional courses that use university intranets such as Blackboard (http://www.blackboard.com) to post announcements and readings but not as a venue for instruction. In the middle are courses taught using a hybrid approach that combines online and in-class instruction (Varanelli & Baugher, 1999). In a hybrid class, some percentage of material is taught in face-to-face classes and the balance is taught through online delivery. The number of hybrid course offerings has increased with the development of software that provides the ability to design functional, interactive sites that facilitate student-teacher communication, deliver course content, and perform administrative tasks (Samuels, 2000).

Given the rapid pace of software development and the growing role of computers in daily life, an increasing emphasis on the utilization of Web-based instruction seems likely (Hitt, 1998). Unfortunately, as an anonymous reviewer of this article commented, there is a “dearth of good research designs and methods…that investigate ways in which instructional media serve a wide variety of learners and shape the learning experience.” In 1999, the Institute for Higher Education Policy reported a relative paucity of original research dedicated to explaining or predicting phenomena related to distance learning, stating further that much of that writing was in the form of “how-to” articles and essays (IHEP, 1999). More recently, Alavi and Gallupe’s (2003) case review of the use of information technology in business and management educations programs concluded that “few objective assessments of the performance of [technology-mediated education programs] are initially undertaken” (p. 139).

Most extant research on this topic investigates the effectiveness of online (Web-based) instruction compared to traditional instruction. Results are inconclusive. For example, studies have found that “cyber students” learn as well as face-to-face teams (Wang & Newlin, 2000, 2001, 2002) and have a higher degree of satisfaction (Navarro & Shoemaker, 2000) and, conversely, that face-to-face teams report higher levels of satisfaction (Warkentin, Sayeed, & Hightower, 1997). It has been reported that virtual teams make more effective decisions (Schmidt, Montoya-Weiss, & Massey, 2001) and are more collaborative (McCollum, 1997) than either individuals or face-to-face teams and, conversely, that levels of communication effectiveness are similar for virtual and face-to-face teams (Chidambaram, 1996; Warkentin et al., 1997). Reviews of several research studies by Brownson (2000) and by Moore and Thompson (1997) concluded that performance outcomes of distributed (distance) technology-mediated learning are not significantly different from traditional learning. Student satisfaction results were mixed. In a study by Goldberg (1997), students in a lecture class with access to supplementary Web materials performed better academically and had better attitudes toward the course than students in a conventional (lecture only) class or a fully online class.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Discussion Board: An intranet site where members can post their thoughts in writing.

Discussion Thread: A series of posts related to a single topic in a discussion board.

Hybrid Course: A course taught using a combination of online and in-class instruction.

External Links: URL addresses that connect to sites on the intranet or Internet.

Intranet: A network within the organization using Internet technologies.

Asynchronous Communication: An electronically transmitted exchange of ideas that allows participation to occur at discontinuous points in time.

Traditional Course: A course taught using in-class, face-to-face instruction.

Online Course: A course taught wholly using online (Internet-based) instruction.

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