Student engages in online learning, a key component of the hybrid curriculum development process.

Hybrid Curriculum Development in Health Care Education: Essential Insights

Hybrid learning, which integrates online and face-to-face instruction, is gaining momentum in higher education, particularly in the health care sector. This innovative approach enables institutions to extend their reach and more effectively address the varied needs of learners.

Amid a pressing shortage of health care professionals, hybrid education models offer vital pathways to entering health care careers, meeting urgent community demands. Yet, crafting high-quality hybrid curricula poses distinct challenges for health care education programs.

This article will guide you through the nuances of hybrid curriculum development in health care education. It begins by identifying the challenges involved, discusses the formation of cross-functional teams for hybrid curriculum design, outlines the critical phases of curriculum development, and highlights strategies for faculty training.

Challenges in Hybrid Curriculum Development

Developing a hybrid curriculum presents higher education institutions with several common challenges, particularly those new to the hybrid model:

  • Transitioning to Hybrid Learning: Converting traditional in-person courses into effective hybrid formats is challenging. Faculty members often resort to merely uploading lectures online, neglecting to adapt their materials and activities for online engagement. This approach can lead to diminished student engagement and learning outcomes.
  • Technology Integration: Selecting technologies that seamlessly merge online and in-class learning is crucial. Without expert IT guidance, institutions may end up with a disjointed mix of technologies that hampers the learning experience.
  • Faculty Training: There is often a lack of comprehensive training for faculty on the specific pedagogical strategies required for effective online teaching and student engagement, leading to instructor and student frustration and cognitive overload.
  • Standards and Quality Control: The absence of clear and concise standards and effective quality control processes can result in inconsistent course quality across programs.
  • Instructional Design Support: Most institutions require additional instructional design resources to aid faculty in converting course content into engaging multimedia materials and immersing online learning activities.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: The failure to systematically collect and act on feedback from online learners means missed opportunities to identify and address gaps in the curriculum, thereby hindering continuous improvement.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that online components are accessible to all learners, including those with disabilities, is often overlooked and can limit the inclusivity of the hybrid model and expose the institution to potential litigation.

Institutions can navigate these challenges more effectively by implementing best practices in online and hybrid education, setting clear development standards, providing faculty instruction on those practices through targeted training programs, and engaging with external partners.

Graphic depicting an Interactive Activity Book, showcasing 'Activity 2: Cerebral Cortex - Lateral View' with drag-and-drop functionality.
Interactive Activity Book developed by EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team.

Building Collaborative Teams for Hybrid Curriculum Development

The journey towards developing high-quality hybrid curricula hinges on the collaboration of cross-functional teams. Enriched with diverse expertise, these teams play a pivotal role in shaping the curriculum. Key contributors within the institution include:

  • Program Directors and Curriculum Directors oversee the curriculum plan to ensure alignment with the mission, vision, and goals of the institution and program.
  • Faculty Members contribute their subject matter expertise on evidence-based instructional content, strategies and assessments.
  • IT Services Personnel are critical in supporting the features and capabilities of essential learning management systems (LMS), online tools, and technical support to facilitate effective online teaching and learning.

EIM Offers Comprehensive Curriculum Support

EIM offers comprehensive curriculum support to partner institutions, further empowering these cross-functional teams to create exceptional hybrid curricula with the highest quality and efficiency. This support includes:

  • Academic Officers use their subject matter and industry expertise to develop a hybrid curriculum framework based on professional education and accreditation standards for each academic discipline. These officers assist university program faculty in degree planning, syllabus creation, curriculum mapping, course mapping and scheduling, instructional content creation, compliance and more.
  • Curriculum Designers work closely with faculty members across the curriculum lifecycle, from initial planning through content development and revision, to deliver educational courses aligned with learning objectives and tailored to student needs. Their approach integrates adult learning theory with instructional design principles and methodologies to ensure the application of best practices throughout course creation and content curation.
  • Instructional Designers contribute their expertise in developing engaging course materials and innovative interactive learning activities that enhance student learning and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential in health care education. They assist faculty with effectively integrating and using educational technologies to enrich the online teaching and learning experience.

Cross-functional collaboration enables each team member to bring their unique perspective and expertise to the team, including accreditation requirements, andragogical and pedagogical best practices, adult learning principles, and educational technologies to produce exceptional curricula and learning outcomes.

Infographic illustrating EIM's Curriculum Design and Development team's four main services: Curriculum Development, Course Production, Course Evaluation, and Course Delivery, arranged in four distinct segments.
EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team helps to facilitate best practices in hybrid education through faculty training, course design and delivery, and technology integrations.

Strategic Phases in Hybrid Curriculum Development

Developing a high-quality hybrid curriculum requires a strategic, phased approach. Cross-functional teams work together across four critical phases to create exemplary courses and enriched student learning experiences. Each phase ensures the curriculum meets educational standards and prepares students for professional excellence.

Curriculum Planning: Leadership Kick-Off, Alignment, and Planning

Initial kick-off and alignment meetings with Program and Curriculum Directors are held to establish shared goals, activities, timelines, and stakeholders for each phase of the curriculum development process.

Subsequent curriculum planning sessions are crucial for establishing the foundation of the educational program and ensuring alignment between course offerings and desired learning outcomes. Important activities include:

  • Mission Alignment: Requisite courses are identified and aligned with the program’s mission, vision, and desired learning goals.
  • Competency Definition: Learning objectives and critical competencies are defined and organized according to best practices for the field.
  • Curriculum Integration: Courses and content are systematically sequenced and integrated across the curriculum by scaffolding objectives to optimize student learning and professional competencies.
  • Standardization Verification: Curriculum mapping is performed to verify that course objectives align with professional educational standards, accreditation standards, and domains covered in licensure examinations. This process ensures that the curriculum meets industry benchmarks and adequately prepares students for licensure exams and professional practice.
  • Approval Process: Completed curriculum plans are submitted to institution leadership and curriculum committee for approval.
  • Faculty Development: Faculty onboarding and training plans are created based on instructional needs.
  • Technology Integration: Educational technologies are evaluated and integrated to ensure optimal curriculum delivery and data tracking capabilities.
  • Template Design: Course templates are designed to facilitate the implementation of best practices in online teaching and learning while adhering to institutional brand guidelines. These templates serve as standardized frameworks for course delivery, ensuring consistency in structure and presentation across various courses within the institution.

Curriculum Production: Course Designing and Content Development

The curriculum production phase focuses on designing detailed courses, developing captivating course content, supporting faculty, and ensuring quality assurance. Course designing requires close collaboration between faculty and curriculum designers to develop detailed course maps and module plans for each course.

Together, this team works to transfer foundational educational and clinical knowledge to students using high-quality, evidence-based, and engaging instructional content. Important activities include:

  • Rapport Establishment: Kick-off and alignment meetings between faculty members and curriculum designers establish professional rapport, review the course development process and responsibilities, and introduce new faculty to an educational technology toolkit.
  • Curriculum Structuring: Course Maps and Module Plans are developed to outline the scope and sequence of learning activities and their alignment with course and module learning objectives.
  • Content Development: Asynchronous video lectures are developed using best practices in online learning to ensure the delivery of engaging instructional content to students.
  • Engagement Strategies: Interactive learning activities are used for formative assessment of key concepts within the lesson and are part of the student and course evaluation cycle.
  • Evaluation Improvement: Summative assignments and assessments are part of the student and course evaluation cycle and enable continuous curriculum improvements based on accumulated insights and data.
  • Collaborative Learning: Class discussions and peer-to-peer learning opportunities are built into the course using a suite of online collaboration and discussion tools that maximize student engagement in online courses.
  • Synchronous Interaction: Synchronous sessions are planned with the best practices in online teaching. Break-out rooms and other strategies are encouraged for optimal student engagement with one another and course content.
  • Skill Development: Lab immersion instructional content is planned and created to develop essential psychomotor skills and clinical competencies.
Graphic displaying 'The 4 Stages of Tissues and Healing' course, showcasing the types of activities EIM's Curriculum Development and Design team specializes in crafting.
Example of the types of activities EIM’s Curriculum Development and Design team specializes in crafting.

Curriculum Delivery: LMS Integration, Content Delivery, and Support

Hybrid curriculum delivery is dependent on the effective use and integration of innovative educational technologies to supplement in-person learning, enhance student engagement, and achieve learning outcomes.

Successful curriculum delivery further requires functionality and accessibility testing and ongoing technical support to ensure a high-quality and trouble-free learning experience. Important activities include:

  • Quality Assurance: Curriculum and Instructional Designers complete a thorough course audit prior to release in the LMS. Functionality testing is performed on all course content, to include instructional videos, interactives, assessments, and hyperlinks to external resources.  Accessibility testing is performed to ensure compliance with
  • Support Collaboration: Curriculum and Instructional Designers collaborate with the institution’s IT Help Desk to provide an umbrella of support services to faculty and students. Responsive technical support that provides faculty and students with quick resolution of issues improves the overall teaching and learning experience.
  • Enhancement Planning: Regular meetings discuss support tickets, trends, and plan further enhancements.

Curriculum Evaluation: Performance Analysis and Improvements

Continuing a collaborative approach to curriculum evaluation ensures a thorough analysis of learning and maximizes the potential for course improvement opportunities.

A thorough course evaluation analyzes student performance, faculty and student feedback, student learning behaviors or curriculum performance.  Detailed course analyses across these areas will identify areas of instructional strength and weakness and form a basis for course improvements. Important evaluations include:

  • Performance Analysis: Student performance is assessed through aggregate and individual course, assessment, and assignment grades. Thorough curriculum and course mapping processes enable the program and faculty to assess student learning in relation to course objectives, taxonomy levels, accreditation standards, and professional licensure domains.
  • Feedback Utilization: Faculty and Student Course Evaluations provide keen insight into the overall teaching and learning experience. A collaborative review of this feedback will identify opportunities to refine course content, instructional methods, or assessment strategies to improve student learning.
  • Behavioral Evaluation: Evaluating student learning behaviors requires the data-informed analysis of how students interacted with course content and learning objects.
  • Support Insights: Help desk ticketing to understand common student questions and challenges. These data will underscore clarifications or enhancements to are necessary for curriculum improvement.

The evaluation cycle repeats regularly to enable continuous quality improvement of individual courses and the overall curriculum plan. Following these best practices for hybrid curriculum development ensures educational quality and strong student outcomes. The cross-functional team approach allows for excellence in health care education.

Faculty Development for Hybrid Curriculum Excellence

Developing a highly skilled faculty is critical for curriculum excellence. Targeted training programs and conferences help expand instructors’ knowledge on key topics such as:

  • Structured Design: Curriculum frameworks and models that ensure faculty understand the coordinated structure and evidence-based curriculum design principles.
  • Hybrid MethodologyHybrid teaching methods that prepare faculty to blend online and in-person learning activities tailored to curriculum goals effectively.
  • Technology Integration: Educational technologies that build skills in leveraging platforms to create engaging content and assessments.
  • Instructional Innovation: Best practices in learning sciences that keep faculty updated on cognitive science research to enhance instructional strategies.
  • Assessment Excellence: Assessment strategies using high-quality rubrics, exams, simulations and other evaluation tools to accurately measure student learning and skill development.
  • Professional Development: Specialized certificate programs that provide intensive training on curriculum-related instructional design and academic excellence.

By continuously cultivating faculty competence, programs empower instructors to be active partners in developing high-quality, innovative curricula that meets accreditation standards. Their classroom expertise and mastery of the hybrid curriculum framework and evidence-based practices ensure impactful teaching and exceptional student outcomes.

Graphic highlighting EIM's Support Portal features, enabling users to submit tickets and access a wealth of resources.
Create tickets directly from EIM’s Support Portal page, where you can also search for articles and other valuable resources.

Enhancing Hybrid Health Care Curriculum for Future Clinicians

Developing exceptional hybrid curricula in health care education hinges on strategic planning, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By uniting program leaders, faculty, curriculum experts, and accrediting bodies, educational programs can implement curricula that exceed standards and adapt to evolving health care needs.

Incorporating educational technologies and providing faculty-targeted training are crucial for creating interactive, student-centered learning experiences. These efforts ensure that graduates are well-prepared clinicians equipped for the complexities of modern health care.

Investing in a rigorous development process underscores a commitment to educational excellence, readying students for successful health care careers through innovation and quality.

For institutions looking to explore or enhance hybrid education in health care, EIM stands ready to assist. With a wealth of experience in developing high-quality, innovative curricula, our team can guide you through every step of the process. Contact us for any questions or to learn more about how hybrid education can transform your institution.