Faculty Spotlight



Hybrid learning offers
benefits for students
and for faculty:
HSB's Brad Gilbreath
talks about lessons
learned from his
first hybrid course

In a desire to “stay current” with new trends in hybrid and online learning, Dr. Brad Gilbreath, associate professor in the Hasan School of Business, used a RAGE faculty development stipend to convert MGMT 591 – HR Management to a hybrid model.

After piloting his new hybrid course in fall 2012, Brad discovered that the course offered unique ways, like blogs, to stay engaged with his students outside the classroom.  His students also realized that the course offered flexibility to fit their busy schedules.


Brad spent two summer semesters redesigning his course for hybrid.  He attended RAGE faculty development workshops and had weekly meetings with RAGE staff to discover new ways to teach in a hybrid format. “It was worth the time I spent designing and developing of the course,” he said. “It’s a huge upfront investment, but now I can reuse the course from this point forward.”

To build his class, Brad first identified the skills and knowledge he wanted his students to gain from the course. These outcomes became the focus of his course design in the classroom and in Blackboard:

1. Video delivered mini-lectures in Blackboard.
2. The lectures built on weekly reading assignments.
3. Students used the blog in Blackboard to share their thoughts on the readings.
4. Students rated the usefulness of their classmates’ blog entries using the Contribution Survey
   in Blackboard.
5. Each week students wrote a HR manual entry that contained supported practices and techniques
     for managing employees.


Early in the fall 2012 semester, some students were nervous about the new course format. However, short tutorials developed their confidence about using Blackboard tools.   Soon students realized the benefits of the flexibility offered by a hybrid course.

Brad, too, recognized the benefits of a well-planned hybrid course and suggests these takeaway ideas for others:

1. Plan content and activities well ahead of time. This gives faculty time to connect with students
     and create a presence inside the virtual classroom.
2. Using collaboration tools, such as the weekly blog, allows each student to have a voice: “Peer to
     peer sharing or learning can be more manageable and inclusive because everyone gets their
     turn to talk.”
3. Know what learning students have to take away from the course. Then, use classroom time to
    stress those points.

Although time consuming to create, video allowed students to listen to, and revisit, lectures at their own pace. Brad also found the videos helpful to him personally. “The process was interesting and helped me to improve communication skills. You never see yourself in action. So, seeing yourself in video makes you realize that you do know lots about the topic you’re teaching.”

By using the RAGE faculty development stipend and training, Brad discovered ways to successfully translate classroom environment to a distance-learning experience that was beneficial for the professor and the students.