Frequently Asked Questions

While every course, programme or module are different, here are some FAQs to get you started with Hybrid Learning at Stellenbosch University.  

Why is Stellenbosch University (SU) pursuing hybrid learning (HL)?
The Hybrid Learning Business Plan was approved by Senate in 2019. This plan motivated that SU builds the capacity to offer more flexible and widely accessible offerings to a potentially broader student market. This longer-term view responds to a number of global shifts in higher education, which calls for more flexible learning models for a broader student market, including full-time, part-time and occasional students. HL also aligns with SU’s strategic goals, such as enabling networked and collaborative learning. 

Broadening SU’s continuum of delivery modes poses significant value to our students. HL programmes and modules can meet the need of working adults that are interested in opportunities for further studies via a delivery mode that is more flexible than a fully-residential one. In other cases, HL offerings are specifically designed to meet the needs of students that cannot afford to stay on our campus full-time. For students that have not been able to pass a so called ‘hurdle’ module, a further opportunity module in hybrid modality can offer them the chance to proceed with their next year of academic studies.  

For SU’s academic staff, facilitating hybrid learning can be an enriching experience of professional development. With the support of the HL design team, SU staff involved with HL curriculum development will learn how to develop online academic resources and how to facilitate active online learning. It may also allow them more flexibility in terms of their teaching schedule, and allow them to explore novel approaches to authentic and formative assessment. There is, however, a number of key considerations for academic staff. See here.

What is the difference between HL, blended learning, and face-to-face learning?

For more detailed descriptions, click here. 

Face-to-face (F2F) / full-contact learning 

The course is offered in a physical classroom or facility, with lecturers/facilitators and students all present in person. This can involve a blended learning approach (see below). 

Blended learning (BL) 

At SU, blended learning (BL) refers to the pedagogically sound utilisation of digital learning technologies, integrated with a variety of learning and teaching methodologies. As an overarching pedagogical approach, BL can be applied in both conventional face-to-face and hybrid learning contexts.  

Hybrid Learning (HL) 

HL involves shorter periods of on-campus (F2F) teaching and learning (block contact sessions), supplemented with sustained periods of fully online learning. Students may engage in several shorter, focused F2F sessions (e.g., a week at a time) on campus, followed/preceded by longer periods of online learning. The calendar ‘blocks’ of fully online learning will likely consist of the following: 

  • Predominantly asynchronous (self-paced) learning, during which students access digitally archived learning material (such as prerecorded videos, online tutorials and reading material) and engage with self-paced online activities (such as practice quizzes or forum discussions). 
  • Some synchronous online activities (such as webinars and other real-time / ‘“live”’ interaction between students and lecturers) 

Assessments could consist of a combination of invigilated tests/examinations in distributed assessment centres, and online assessments. 

HL programmes must adhere to a minimum required contact time. 

How does HL differ from ARTLA?

As hybrid learning is deemed a flexible mode of delivery that can meet the needs of a growing market of non-residential students, hybrid learning has become part of SU’s educational strategy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it will continue to form part of its delivery model in future. 

Then, when the global pandemic struck in 2019, SU had to shift to emergency remote teaching, which was a fully online model. In 2020, SU adopted ARTLA (Augmented Remote Teaching, Learning and Assess​ment), a differentiated model that combine different modes of delivery. ARTLA allows for faculties and departments to respond to the unique circumstances brought about by the global pandemic. Depending on the desired module outcomes, they can decide upon the exact mix of learning and teaching modes to be followed for each module. Read more about ARTLA, here. 

What does ‘minimum contact time’ mean?

For hybrid learning offerings, there is a minimum portion of contact learning to be maintained. (Contact time refers to synchronous online activities, such as webinars, and other real-time interaction between students and lecturers). This contact learning portion is expressed as a percentage of the total notional hours of a programme. Notional hours are the total amount of time that a student requires to complete the module. (1 Academic credit = 10 notional hours).  

So, for a postgraduate programme it is implied that the student uses 75% of the time required for the module on self-study, preparation, assessments, etc. 

Synchronous hours are, however, not only face-to-face lectures and notional hours does not only refer to “lectures”.  Synchronous learning can occur in many forms, the only requirement is that it should happen in “real time,” i.e., the lecturer and student(s) can interact with each other at the same time. 

To what extent can I start implementing Hybrid Learning without applying for HL Funding?

There are ways for a department or lecturer to contract other professional learning design support (such as a freelance learning designer with Moodle/SUNLearn experience), independent of HL funding. However, it is recommended that you first consult the HL Project Manager, Miné de Klerk, your faculty CTL advisor and/or your Faculty BLC, before you start this process. There are a few considerations (e.g., the typical budget for such services, the timeline to design/re-design your offering for a hybrid mode of delivery, potentially a registration process and/or yearbook changes), etc.  

If you feel you have the capacity and skills to develop an HL offering independent of any additional support or services, you may have to consider working closely with your faculty CTL advisor during the curriculum design phase, and then work with your faculty BLC to create the online resources yourself. Please keep in mind, however, that these colleagues will be able to assist in an advisory capacity, as they are not learning designers and will not be able to create and upload online learning material on your behalf. You can, however, consult with them on your approach, and consider using one of the SUNLearn design templates created for Emergency Remote Teaching in 2020 and 2021. This involves a basic course layout which you can populate with content. 

For academic staff members that are interested in developing an HL offering, or that would like to encourage colleagues in their department/faculty to do so: Where to start?
  1. Request the funding documentation via our contact form, or via the Project Manager. Even if you do not decide to apply for funding, the application form provides useful guidance on what to consider and who to approach for more information.
  2. Once you have read the information, you should have a better sense of whether your potential offering will align with the key criteria listed in the forms. If you are still unsure, you can contact your faculty L&T advisor, your BLC or the HL Project Manager. 
  3. The next step (before you start completing the form) is to have further internal discussions within your faculty. Funding nominations should be endorsed by faculty management. The HL steering committee will be looking for a confirmation that the potential funding will be invested in developing an offering that is of strategic value to the faculty.  It is recommended that the HOD brings the intent to apply for funding under the attention of the Vice-Dean (L&T). In some faculties, this will lead to discussions with the faculty’s academic planning committee, or other role-players such as the Faculty Manager.
  4. Once you have had these discussions, you can start completing the form. The form contains a ‘checklist’ section that refers you to colleagues or other sources of information, to assist you to complete the form.
  5. Once the form is completed and signed by all the required colleagues, your Vice-Dean Learning and Teaching can submit it before the deadline of the latest funding call. 
  6. After the steering committee has met to review all the nominations, the outcome will be communicated via a letter from the DVC (L&T). 
What can HL funding be used for, and how is it managed?

The HL steering committee reviews HL funding applications each year, based on the number of funding calls announces. (There have been 2 calls so far and, another planned for 2021. The number of funding calls for 2022 will be based on the HL design team’s capacity). In the case of successful applications, funding is allocated on a case-by-case basis.  

The bulk of the funding will go toward instructional design and multimedia development support. This means a dedicated learning design team from the Centre for Learning Technologies will work on the offering for first-round development and implementation.  

A smaller amount flows directly to the department, primarily for human resources. This amount is calculated on a per-credit basis. It is intended to buy in lecturers’ time or create additional capacity for them, as they work on the HL module.  

In some faculties, such funding has been applied to buy in extra teaching/tutoring support for lecturers involved, to free up their time/lighten their teaching load as they work on the hybrid module. In other cases, faculties view HL development as part of programme renewal, and therefore part of the lecturers’ work agreement (as opposed to being viewed as additional work). In such cases, the HOD typically chooses not to offer them additional financial incentive, but rather to apply the funding to offer the module coordinator and/or the lecturers some administrative support. A third way to apply the funding could be to buy in the time/contribution from external subject matter experts. We choose to allow the department to decide exactly how the funding should be spent, but the HL Project Manager will need to discuss this with the HOD and faculty manager, beforehand.  

After this meeting, a dedicated cost centre will be set up with the relevant department, and the funds are transferred. 

What are the key considerations for academic staff and departments interested in designing HL offerings?
HL offers ample instructional design support and (limited) funding* to partially buy in lecturer time to allow for development capacity of HL modules, but only during the first-round development and implementation stage. The viability of the programme, and associated financial risk, is therefore a key consideration for the faculty.  

*This funding cannot replace full lecturer remuneration. It is a smaller amount to alleviate for example their teaching load while they spend time on developing online learning materials. 

Staff context: Department chairs, lecturers, and other academic staff that will be involved in the process should further consider the following: 

  • Do you have sufficient​ capacity and time, to commit to the curriculum design and technical HL development process? (If you are unsure of how much time this will take, please contact the HL team and/or your CTL advisor). 
  • If you foresee that you will need some support to make time for HL development, what kind of support intervention will help you? For example: Do you need to alleviate your teaching load or request teaching assistant/tutor support? Will you need to identify external subject matter experts to help develop some of the course material? HL funding may not be able to address all these needs, but an awareness of your unique context should certainly inform both your discussions with faculty leadership and the HL team, as you apply for funding. 
  • When would you like to implement the hybrid offering? Does your timeline allow for the administrative process of registering a programme/module, or updating and resubmitting module registration forms? Please contact the Centre for Academic Planning and QA, or your CTL advisor, if you need to better understand the typical timelines involved. 
  • Do you have buy-in and support from the rest of your department and faculty (including the faculty manager, Vice-Deans and Dean)? 

It is as important to consider your prospective students’ context. HL requires students to have sufficient access to Internet, personal devices and a basic level of digitial literacy, in order to learn online. The technical and curricular design of the module can be adapted to be as responsive as possible to their context, but the HL funding application should first demonstrate that you are aware of their learning needs (in terms of how, when and where the cohort will be learning) even if these needs are quite diverse. 

Is HL funding only for new courses, or can it be used for redesigning existing, residential offerings to be offered in a hybrid modality?

HL funding can be applied in both cases:  

  1. To design an entirely new offering. (This will involve module/programmeregistration). 
  2. To change the delivery mode of an existing residential programme to a hybrid learning offer. (This will involve resubmitting a new Form B, for modules, or Form A, for programmes. HL offerings are viewed as distinct from residential offerings and will therefore require a new module code).  

In both cases, the students’ and lecturers’ context should be carefully taken into account, to ascertain whether sustained periods of fully online learning is indeed appropriate. 

Can HL funding be used to develop short courses?

HL funding is, at this stage, appropriate for academic credit-bearing offerings, or parts thereof.  However, a HL module’s content could also be used to offer a fully online short course. HL funding applications can indicate that a short course may be planned in parallel to the academic offering, but the short course should not be the focus of the funding application. 

What is the process for registering a new HL offering?
The normal internal processes for module registration apply. Once the module documentation (Form B) has been finalised (for which we strongly recommend the faculty L&T advisor* is consulted, to help with the formulation of the outcomes, the assessment strategy etc.), the module must be submitted to the academic committee of the faculty, potentially the faculty board, and then be submitted to the Programme Advisory Committee (PAC). 

Once feedback from PAC has been incorporated, the documentation will serve via the Faculty Board at Senate. 

For more information on registering a new HL programme: Please contact an advisor at the Centre for Academic Planning and Quality Assurance. 

What are the dates of the next funding rounds?
Between 2020 and 2022, funding calls are announced 2-3 times per year.

The call for faculties to nominate modules or programmes for HL development funding is sent to Vice-Deans, Deans and Head of Departments from the Senior Director for Learning and Teaching Enhancement: Dr Antoinette van der Merwe.

Contact Miné de Klerk for further information.