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The Hybrid Solution
September 14, 2009 - 9:50pm

Have you seen Wick Sloan's piece "Teaching After Midnight," on his experience with his late night teaching at Bunker Hill Community College? This is a great essay, one that I hope my learning technology colleagues take the time to check out.

My first response, which I bet will be shared by many of you, is that Bunker Hill could leverage technology by offering more hybrid courses. A hybrid course could make better use of the classroom by only having class meetings for one hour per week, allowing three classes to use the same space as a regular in-class course. A hybrid model supports many of the great things about face-to-face learning, such as the delivery of intense lectures and opportunity to get to know the professor and fellow students in person, while better leveraging scarce classroom resources.

I greatly admire Wick's dedication and his willingness to experiment with alternate teaching times to meet his students needs. The issue I have is that midnight teaching is not a scalable model, where hybrid (and online) teaching can be. Wick writes that "..two thirds of my class this morning enrolled at midnight because all the day, evening and weekend sections were full. The rest have night jobs..". For the one-third of the students with night jobs then I think online courses are the right solution. The other two-thirds could be accommodated by increasing the number of sections by going with a hybrid approach.

Did Bunker Hill consider creating hybrid classes? I wonder if any learning technologists or other folks on campus who are comfortable with course management systems and technology enabled learning had a place at the table to address the course supply crisis?

Wick is right when he argues that: "This is a national nightmare. Not a cry but a scream for help from these students. Sure, it’s great that community colleges are finding ways to respond to the huge enrollment increases they are seeing. But, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, do we want to be citizens in a country that forces its poorest students to go to college at midnight?" Perhaps teaching some sections at midnight will get enough attention to dramatize just how badly resources are strained at community colleges and public schools. But I also think that this enrollment boom can serve as an opportunity to introduce and extend other models of course design and delivery. For Bunker Hill, and many other places facing a crush of students, hybrid and online education seems to be the answer.


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