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Hybrid Courses: Meeting in Person and Online

Some colleges offer traditional, in-person instruction, with students seated in classrooms and lecture halls. Some colleges offer courses online, offering students more flexibility and the option to complete their coursework from the comfort of their own homes. A class type that is becoming increasingly more popular is the hybrid course, which borrows from both traditional and online instruction to offer enrolled students a taste of both.

Hybrid courses require a certain amount of time spent both in person and online. Depending on the setup of the class and requirements set forth by both the college offering the course and the instructor teaching it, a hybrid course may have varying ratios of time spent with an instructor face-to-face and in the virtual classroom. The best hybrid course will incorporate the advantages of each scenario and limit the disadvantages of both, but there are some things to consider when enrolling in a hybrid course.

The Advantages

Instructors and professors are able to teach their courses differently in a hybrid format, using technology to their advantage to reach more students with the material. Let’s face it. Technology and the Internet are here to stay, and becoming more knowledgeable about both should be required of all students. What the instructor loses by not being able to communicate with a student immediately and in person may be accounted for through the use of unique new methods of communication, such as online discussion boards and instant messaging in class-wide chat rooms. The instructor is also able to jazz up their lectures with video and web clips, or point students to online aids that may supplement the reading and instruction.

A good hybrid course is able to address a variety of learning styles. Both those students who learn well independently and those who learn well in the classroom are able to excel in this type of class, as hybrid courses borrow from both of those learning environments. Proponents of hybrid courses say that students enrolled in such classes have higher success rates than those in both traditional and online classrooms. We think it depends on the student. If you’re determined to do well, and put the work in, chances are you’ll do well in any learning environment. But a hybrid course may be a good option if you’re looking for a unique experience without committing solely to one type of class over another.

The Disadvantages

A hybrid course could mean more work, for both the students enrolled and the instructors handling the planning of the classes. Students used to spending a few hours in a lecture hall per week may need to get used to the idea that they’ll need to keep up with an online component of a course as well, and the instructors are responsible for not only making their classroom instruction informative and dynamic, but coming up with virtual components of the same quality. Students should consider their motivations for enrolling in such a course, as it’s rarely the easy option on the course log that some may believe it is.

As with an online course, students must be prepared for a good deal of independent work and less reliance on the instructor when they have questions on a particular lesson or assignment. For students worried about the intricacies of online courses that make them more difficult for those who have problems managing their time or with procrastinating on their work, a hybrid course may not be a good fit either. You’ll not only be responsible for time in the classroom, but assignments and interactions online, so consider whether you’re interested in a hybrid course for the novelty of it, or the value of it.

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