The hybrid course format (defined at UW Bothell as 25% to 50% online) provides an opportunity to take advantage of both the face-to-face and online formats. Having some required in-person sessions retains the important class cohort social dynamic and its sense of connection among students and faculty, while decreasing the amount of scheduled class time and the amount of commuting time for students and faculty. Conducting a percentage of the course in the online environment enables a level of self-scheduled participation (for faculty and students) and can provide increased access to higher education for non-traditional students.
Beyond the obvious scheduling differences that the hybrid format enables, hyrid courses and their associated technologies provide new avenues for student expression (in written or multimedia forms) and for sustained collaboration among students and faculty. The additional pedagogical benefits include democratization of the classroom in giving equal voice time to all student participants, including English Language Learners. The face-to-face component can also mitigate the difficult transition to online learning that many students experience.
There are a number of other factors which make hybrid learning attractive to UW Bothell students, faculty and administration. Students gain:
- More opportunities to interact with course materials and resources, leading to greater engagement and enhanced opportunities for success
- Higher-quality peer interaction
- Greater flexibility in course scheduling, a boon to UW Bothell’s high percentage of working and commuting students
- Increased skills in self-directed learning leading to greater learner autonomy
- Skills in communicating effectively in multiple modes
- Increased technical skills
Students at UW Bothell and nationally have indicated a strong desire for more hybrid courses. In a survey done of Nursing students taking hybrid courses during Winter Quarter 2011, over 81% agreed or strongly agreed that they would be interested in taking another hybrid learning course. A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article
highlighted a survey done by Eduventures of 20,000 current and prospective students which indicated that colleges aren’t keeping up with student demand for hybrid courses.
Hybrid learning can provide benefits to faculty as well. Faculty could gain:
- Enhanced pedagogical practices as a result of redesigning the learning experience
- Better student engagement
- More flexible schedule and better ability to work from different locations (even more beneficial to those faculty who share an office or don’t have an office)
- Enhanced opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary practices such as course linking
- Better online pedagogical and technology skills while still retaining the valued face-to-face interaction with students
Finally, UW Bothell can also gain a number of institutional benefits from hybrid learning:
- Enhanced university brand and reputation with the potential of being a leader in hybrid learning
- More efficient use of classroom space which could help reduce the current classroom crunch
- Greater student access
- Active implementation of the 21st Century Campus Initiative’s innovation and sustainability goals
- Enhanced student learning