OPINION: Why WKU should continue to offer the hybrid class format post-pandemic


A WKU Student attends class on Zoom.

Christina West, Commentary writer

All types of schedules have pros and cons, whether they are fully-in person, online or hybrid. The last three terms seem to be a smorgasbord of them all, with last fall being almost exclusively online, followed by a predominantly hybrid format in spring 2021. Now, the majority of classes are back to where they were pre-pandemic, as online and hybrid options dwindle. 

These transitions gave me whiplash, but sampling all the types also allowed a strong preference for the hybrid format to develop. Hybrid classes are just right -the goldilocks of schedules. 

Hybrid classes should be a more prominent option at WKU, as they allow for autonomy and self-sufficiency while still providing the on-campus lecture experience. 

There is no denying the benefits of in-person classes when it comes to class engagement. In-person classes are immersive means of connecting with professors and peers. Without leaving home, it is difficult to feel a part of a community. 

That being said, fully-in person classes are demanding both physically and mentally. Walking up and down the hill every day is exhausting. Going from the flexibility of partially remote classes to the incessant walking or running from class to-and-from class was a jarring change. 

While less time in class may seem like an inherent learning disadvantage, I would argue that this change opens up more time that could be spent on studies in a more flexible way. This is especially true for classes that are less lecture-based and involve lots of reading or larger, independent projects. 

Classes take up a huge chunk of time that can be used for flexible scheduling and independent student needs. We need to consider nontraditional students, commuters and those who work part-time or full-time on top of their studies. 

According to 2019-2020 data, commuters and students living off-campus made up 65.6% of WKU’s undergraduates. In-person classes involve lots of driving back and forth to campus up to five days a week. Gas prices continue to climb, making fully in-person schedules an expensive option for commuters. 

The pandemic has shown that hybrid schedules are indeed possible, either through more independent learning, zoom calls or recorded lectures. It was a learning curve for some professors to change their teaching style and rely on technology more than before. However, it is 2021, and knowing how to utilize these technologies is crucial in a changing workforce. Indeed, many jobs are listed as remote and have permanently shut down offices. 

I hate to bring this up, but COVID-19 is still a thing. Fully-in person classes with attendance requirements actually incentivize students to come to class sick. Hybrid schedules would better adapt to these circumstances.

Hybrid will not be for everyone, but WKU can appeal to a broader demographic by providing more flexible scheduling options.

Commentary writer Christina West can be reached at [email protected].