By: Jacqueline Foster
One of the best ways to determine if you are well-suited for online learning is to enroll in a hybrid course and see how you handle the online component. Hybrid, or blended, courses combine the best of what online courses and traditional courses have to offer by featuring the flexibility of online learning with the face-to-face experience of the classroom. In other words, students are required to do some of their coursework online and some of their coursework on a campus.
The percentage of time that is devoted to online work versus classroom work varies from class to class. Some hybrid classes meet in person one day a week, while all other lectures for the rest of the week are delivered online. Other hybrid classes are completed almost entirely online, but come together a few times a semester in a classroom for the presentation of projects, for proctored exams and for special guest speakers. Speech classes in particular work well as hybrid courses, so that students can learn the material online, but can still deliver their prepared speeches in front of their classmates, which serve as their audience.
One of the advantages of hybrid courses is it familiarizes students with the online learning environment, and lets them take advantage of the convenience that comes with accessing the online portion of their courses whenever they wish to throughout their day. Students taking hybrid courses spend much less time on campus, which saves them the hassle of commuting multiple times a week. While the student is enjoying these advantages, he/she also knows that he can interact in person with his/her instructor and fellow classmates the next time the class comes together on campus. For students who prefer a bit of social interaction in their classes, hybrid courses are a good option.Some evidence also suggests that students perform better in hybrid courses than fully online or fully traditional courses. Inside Higher Ed reported on a 2009 study at South Texas College showing that students who took all three types of courses performed best in hybrid courses. That study showed that hybrid courses were particularly beneficial for courses in business and technology, health, liberal arts, and social sciences programs. Only in math and science did traditional students perform better in the study, the article noted.
Other advantages of hybrid courses over traditional courses include building students’ writing, computer and time management skills, improving class participation, and cultivating the student’s ability to self-direct their learning, according to the University of Colorado Denver.
Unfortunately, hybrid courses are not as common as online courses. In fact, a recent Eduventures survey showed there weren’t enough hybrid courses being developed to meet the growing demand for them, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. So if hybrid courses are a priority to you, make sure you select an online university with a campus in your area that makes hybrid courses available. If you already do attend a school that offers them, take advantage of the opportunity.