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Implementing hybrid courses

In the lecture hall, at home, or at a different location - offering hybrid courses, i.e., simultaneously at the university and online, allows you to reach all your students regardless of their location. This way, even those unable to attend in person due to personal obstacles can follow your teaching.

In a nutshell: What is a hybrid course?

The common feature of all hybrid courses is that the teacher and the students are in the same classroom while other students participate online. The goal is to have all students participate in a course equally and barrier-free. This requires classrooms with perfect technical equipment and a stable internet connection on both sides. You can differentiate between a hybrid lecture and a hybrid seminar.

Basics: Why should I offer a hybrid course?

Learning can only be successful if students actively engage with content and ask questions. Classroom sessions allow for social interaction, cooperative work, and academic discourse. However, classroom-only teaching hinders flexible participation in academic teaching, so absent students have to catch up on the missed course content on their own and may lose touch.

In the future, we will have to ponder (…) what is the classroom actually for (…) and what is the purpose of the digital space?

Prof. Dr. Christian Kohls, „Hybride Lehrszenarien gestalten“ (“Designing hybrid teaching scenarios”), 14.10.2020

Hybrid courses address three main guiding principles in studying and teaching (TH Cologne, 2018):

Guiding principles

Internationalization: students abroad have the chance to participate in hybrid courses. External experts in Germany and abroad can be invited to participate in the course online and contribute their expertise.

Employability: Digital and hybrid working is becoming increasingly important (Mierich, 2020 & Hirsch-Kreinsen et al., 2019). The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp) also emphasizes the need for these skills in the labor market. Therefore, hybrid technologies should already be used at university to prepare students for the modern work environment.

Inclusion: students who are unable to participate in a course on-site at the university due to personal obstacles (health, caregiving responsibilities, commuting, …) should still have the opportunity to participate.

Step by Step

Hybrid lectures:

In a hybrid lecture for a medium to large group, you, as the teacher, are on-site at the university. Students either sit in the lecture hall or join the lecture online. All students post their questions in the chat or in an audience response tool (e. g., so that those participating online can also see all questions.
The screen you show your teaching material on is displayed via projector or monitor on-site, image and sound are shared via video conferencing tool, and documents are accessible via screen sharing.

Hybrid seminars:

In a hybrid seminar for a smaller number of students, you, as the teacher, are also on-site in a suitable classroom with appropriate technical equipment. Some of the students are in the room with you, some join you online. Share your presentation, sketches, calculations, and transcripts via a video conferencing tool using screen sharing and a visualizer if needed. Your screen is displayed via projector or monitor. Use a wide-angle camera and multiple microphones to ensure that you and all students, regardless of location, can see and hear each other. The first and last sessions of the hybrid seminar will be held online for all students. This way, getting to know each other and the course closure is the same for everyone so that a sense of community can be fostered.

  • Ensure that a room/lecture hall is available with the equipment needed for your purposes.
  • All students must be informed in advance that they can participate both digitally and in the classroom.
  • Provide students with all necessary information, such as room number, time, login information, and instructions on technical equipment, in advance.
  • All materials are available to all students online or on a learning management system such as ILIAS or THspaces before and during the course.
  • Test any tools you plan to use in your hybrid course in advance.
  • Before the first session, provide students with information about the tools you plan to use so they can become familiar with how to use them.
  • Allow enough time for all participants to adjust to the situation and for any technical issues to be resolved.
  • Ensure that all necessary materials, information, access data, deadlines, and guidelines are accessible to all students at all times (for example, using ILIAS).
  • In the first session, explain all the tools and technologies that will be used.
  • Clarify the rules of conduct, for example, the way questions should be asked and answered.
  • Ensure that both on-site and online students are equally able to ask questions and share comments.
  • In a hybrid seminar, check that not only you as the teacher but also all students can be seen and heard well.
  • During a hybrid course with a large group (lecture), it is recommended to have questions asked only in the chat or in an anonymous question tool (e. g. The latter reduces inhibitions and better integrates students into the course.
  • If the lecture hall is equipped for hybrid teaching and has table microphones, you can have questions asked orally by on-site students. Otherwise, you need to repeat the questions asked in the classroom for everyone.
  • Hybrid seminar: Ensure that verbal contributions and inputs are possible online as well as offline and are understood by both on-site and online students.
  • Hybrid seminar: all students must be able to participate in all interactions regardless of location. As a teacher, you should refrain from activities in which only one group (on-site or online students) can participate.

What technical equipment do I need?

  • projector/large screen
  • sound system
  • wide-angle camera
  • LAN connection
  • additional screen for teacher
  • power supply
  • if required: visualizer

For seminar room additionally:

  • portable or permanently installed videoconferencing system with camera and microphones
  • laptop
  • high-resolution webcam
  • adapter or USB hub for connecting LAN, projector or monitor, mouse, and webcam
  • portable microphone
  • if required: assistant to support
  • laptop with working sound output
  • stable internet connection
  • if required: headphones
  • terminal with access to WiFi and chat
  • headphones

From a technical perspective, a hybrid lecture is a face-to-face course complemented by a livestream on the Internet. Livestreaming provides images and sound in real-time. On-site students should be displayed as well.

In the hybrid seminar, all students interact equally and independently of location. If online and on-site students are to work together in groups, on-site students must bring their own terminal devices. To avoid interference from different sound outputs, splitters can be connected to the video conferencing system, and headphones can be used.

Do you need recommendations for technical devices? A collection of specific purchase recommendations has been compiled by the Hybrid Classroom Expertise Circle. Hardware list for download (with login).

Good Practices

Header-Image: © Andrey Popov/AdobeStock

  • Michéle Seidel

    Michéle Seidel (M.A.) is a research assistant at the Center for Academic Development at the TH Köln University of Applied Sciences with a focus on hybrid/digital teaching, social online learning environments, science communication and research.

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