Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Onsite Support for Hybrid Students

I’m hoping that some of my wise and worldly readers can help on this one.

As is true at many colleges, most of our “online” students are actually hybrid.  In other words, they’re taking both classroom courses and online courses at the same time.  They’re using online classes to make their schedules more compatible with work and family demands.  We have some purely online students, but most of our online students aren’t purely online.  Most come to campus, or to an affiliated location, at least once a week.

Which raises the possibility, at least in theory, of using onsite resources in support of the online classes that these hybrid students are taking.

(I’ll pause for a moment to let all that jargon settle.  Occupational hazard.)

Online classes are becoming increasingly popular, but success rates in them tend to trail their onsite analogues.  (Analogs?)  If students are flocking more to the format in which we succeed less, we have a choice to make: either accept lower success rates as the wave of the future, or get better at online support.  I prefer the latter.  

(To be fair, there’s also the third option of sticking our fingers in our ears, holding our breath until we turn blue, and trying to wait out the whole “internet” thing.  I don’t see that ending well.)

So here’s the opportunity.  We have students coming to campus on a regular basis while they’re also taking online classes.  Conceivably, they could get help unique to their online classes while they’re on campus.  In a perfect world, that support would help students succeed at greater rates in their online courses.

My question to my readers:

  • Have you seen colleges do something like this successfully?
  • If so, how did they do it?  
  • Alternately, have you seen an instructive crash-and-burn?