Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Hybrids and the Log Flume
Has anyone out there found a way to get students who have a choice to try hybrids? I’m convinced that if The Girl had a chance to try the log flume, she would have liked it as much as I did. It’s just a matter of that first try. I’d hate to see a format that makes so much sense sacrificed because it’s not obviously either fish or fowl.
This is second hand, from an annoyed colleague. Our problem with hybrids is that the students disappear on one side or the other. Mostly they don't come to campus ready to work, maybe because they thought the on-line part was just a freebie that meant less effort and that the on-campus time would review what they missed (like if they skipped several lecture classes).
Some of the solutions to poor performance in web classes, like an on-line pre-course that forces them to show that they can work regularly up in the cloud, might help.
What I tell students during orientation advising is the same thing I tell my summer short-term classes. Success comes from regular work, our favorite new buzz-word "engagement". This is really about making a sales pitch, which is easier to do in a classroom than at the advising table until you get a critical mass of students who tell their peers that the work is worth it.
I see a similar phenomenon when hearing about the academic job market. The professors in my R1 all seem pretty positive about academic career prospects, but each and every one of them has succeeded in the market, so there's a distinct bias in your sample. Reading today's blog post made me think of the similarity between prof perceptions and student performance.
Also, I like Anonymous' suggestion about mandatory intro classes offered in hybrid-only format. In my 3rd year of my undergrad, I got a 1 hour seminar from a librarian on everything the library had to offer. Had that been offered in 1st year, that would have been much more useful.
At any rate, given the above, I have relatively little concern about self selection (hybrid vs. traditional) playing a role in outcomes. And yet, student performance (grades, course completion/withdrawal rate) are routinely better in my hybrid sections than in either my or my colleagues' traditional sections.
As for complaints that students "fall off" the online side of a hybrid course: When I first taught in this format, I had a lot of challenges convincing students to do the online work, and I compensated by repeating a lot in class. As soon as I stopped doing that and more fully integrated the online portion, they started to take the online work more seriously. Go figure. Now I have the course set up so that the online material wraps around the in-class portions, both as an intro and as a further exploration. It works beautifully, and allows us to use class time for much more interesting and engaged discussions.