Examining the Future of Public Higher Education: The Pros and Cons of Online, Hybrid, and Face-to-Face Class Formats

In a recent report written by the University of Washington’s Office of the Provost, President Michael Young expressed his vision for the University to become “Tomorrow’s University Today”, not only by adapting and responding to an ever-present change in education, but also by leading the change to explore new and exciting methods of teaching and learning that have yet to be discovered. This “change” has come in the form of online and hybrid class formats that have been adopted and utilized in an effort to provide a more digital, convenient, and innovative alternative for students to pursue their education at the University of Washington.

According to the report, the University has been a leading figure in providing online courses for over a decade now, even when topics concerning these courses have just recently emerged. Present in all three of the University’s campuses, online and hybrid courses have become a successful alternative to the traditional face-to-face class format. With the support of campus groups, such as Bothell’s Hybrid Course Development Institute, Tacoma’s Instructional Technology Fellows Initiative for Course Redesign, and Seattle’s Center for Teaching and Learning, the future for online teaching and learning in public higher education looks very promising. As mentioned before, the Hybrid Course Development Institute (HCDI), led by Carol Leppa, Andreas Brockhaus, Rebecca Bliquez, David Goldstein, and Ian Porter, is a 6-week faculty professional development institute in which a group of faculty members learn about the pedagogy, methods, and experiences for teaching hybrid courses at the University of Washington Bothell. Click here to learn more about the institute.

The report goes into great detail and presents a very interesting analysis of the pros and cons for each of the three class formats: online, hybrid, and face-to-face. For example, in the traditional face-to-face format, a collaborative environment is naturally formed where students and instructors are able to discuss and interact with each other easily. However, scheduling conflicts, that could be problematic for students working a part-time or a full-time job, and large class sizes, where coordination and classroom management can be overwhelming for instructors, can make the traditional format a difficult learning  and teaching experience.

Click here for more information about this report.

(For a previous blog post about hybrid courses at the University of Washington Bothell, click here)