Recently, an article was published in The Chronicle of Higher Ed that states a recent survey found that the demand for hybrid courses in higher education is much higher than the availability of hybrid programs. Since hybrid programs require that some of the course be taken in a face to face setting, the issue is poignant for local campuses-both for-profit and nonprofit.
I just finished teaching a 5 week course on developing hybrid courses and attended a yearly Blended Learning (hybrid) conference given by the Sloan Consortium. While the number of attendees wouldn’t knock your socks off, the number of attendees was somewhere in the hundreds and this was the 8th annual conference.
I agree with the author of the article, hybrid classes are trending right now and for good reason. Think about all the benefits students gain from face to face courses. There is the learning community building and the immediate feedback when the instructor knows the students are just not getting it and can immediately adjust and re-teach. There is the hands-on experience of science labs where students learn by practicing and investigating. Now think of all the good reasons students benefit from online courses. Students can participate in class anytime and anywhere. Students can participate in online simulations and experiments where the costs are prohibitive in a face to face course or the chemicals or components are not widely available. Free or mostly free online tools allow instructors to create engaging content that is presented in a way that appeals to multi-modal learners and perhaps becomes more accessible in the online world than via a lecture in a face to face course.
Now take the best activities and teaching techniques from both methods, combine them into one course and you have the best possible course to teach and learn any subject out there. In fact, the sticking point for most online learning advocates is that practicum based learning such as doctors, phlebotomists or teachers still needs to be hands on. Hybrid courses offer the benefits of online and face to face learning.
One comment in the Chronicle article stated: “There’s a strong rationale for many nonprofit schools that lack national brands to use a form of hybrid to get the best of both worlds—to play to consumer interest in online but tack onto it some kind of high-value, on-ground, institution-specific, face-to-face component that allows them to differentiate in an otherwise very commoditized market.” (Parry, 2011).
Likely this is true and I realize that in the end, it is all about money. Perhaps, we could increase hybrid options (and according to this online survey, it still won’t be soon enough) because if done right, it provides students the very best of both worlds. It might help the local nonprofit institution but it might also help the local student too!
Pamela Kachka, M.A.Ed.
Academic Trainer & Consultant
Parry, M. (2011, April 14). Colleges aren’t keeping up with student demand for hybrid programs, survey suggests. The Chronicle of Higher Ed, Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/colleges-arent-keeping-up-with-student-demand-for-hybrid-programs-survey-suggests/30930?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en