Education Blog

The Hybridization of Higher Education

October 14, 2013

To keep pace with the changing face of education; more working adults, technological innovations, university economics, and increased student demand for more flexibility, Universities have to change the methods of delivering education.  Over the past decade university administrators have seen an increase in online education and a decrease in class size. In order to differentiate themselves, universities have begun looking for innovative ways to reach more students while improving the quality of the educational experience by offering new instructional modes.  Some of these include, MOOC’s, Flipped Classrooms’, blended, and hybrid environments.

In an effort to meet student demand for a more interactive learning experience and the flexibility to engage in classroom instruction as well as online learning, institutions of higher learning have begun designing hybrid learning experiences.

These hybrid learning experiences combine face-to-face and online students in an instructor-led synchronous session supported by internet-based video conferencing.  The result is a classroom that combines virtual students with face-to-face students sitting in a classroom but all participating through the magic of videoconferencing technology.  An online learning management system that coordinates information away from the synchronous classroom supports all the students.

Academically, hybrid classes offer a learning environment that promotes student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction.  The desire for more dynamic instruction is evident throughout academia and in the trends toward alternate formats.

Institutions of higher education have found that significant planning and preparation is required to make hybrid courses successful.  The curriculum is adapted for compressed synchronous discussions balanced with self-paced individual learning activities.  In addition, faculty must work closely with registration, scheduling, and IT to ensure the courses work with the learning management systems and the technology properly supports student learning.  When these factors are addressed, students are overall more satisfied and more engaged in the hybrid courses.  Faculty in turn enjoy teaching in a mode that reflects how collaborative work is accomplished in real-world organizations, adding another dimension to the value of the curriculum.

Blog post by Franklin faculty members Dr. Daniel Bell, Program Chair, Interactive Media Design, and Dr. Brenda Jones, Program Chair, Communications.


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