Use of hybrid classes decrease as distance learning continues into another semester

modality chart – jacob latimer.png

Jacob Latimer

WKU courses continue to shift away from being hybrid and toward either fully in-person or online.

When comparing the fall and spring semesters, there’s nearly a 4% drop in hybrid courses. WKU professors are given the option to hold their classes online, in person, or hybrid each semester. In the fall, the Herald reported that 40.1% of classes were online, 22.4% of classes were hybrid and 37.4% were in person.

This semester, the number of hybrid classes dropped, while in-person and online classes slightly increased. Of the 3,686 courses held at WKU this semester, 42.4% are online, 18.9% are hybrid and 38.6% are in person.

While most WKU professors kept their courses the same over the semester change, some saw it as an opportunity to readjust.

English professor David LeNoir decided to switch from having some hybrid classes last semester to having all of his classes fully in person this semester.

“The determining factor was class size,” LeNoir said in a email. “I lucked out in the spring with small classes that I could run as fully face-to-face.”

While online and hybrid teaching have been challenging for professors, LeNoir is thankful for the help he has received along the way.

“The extent of the challenges we faced was seriously reduced by the proactive work of the provost’s office and CITL to provide us with the information and tools we needed to deal with the changes,” LeNoir said. “And the folks in IT — especially the helpdesk — were incredibly helpful in dealing with the day-to-day surprises presented by some of the technology.”

Biology professor Douglas McElroy kept his larger classes online this semester, even though he prefers teaching in-person classes.

“Overall, I prefer in-person, because I like the dynamics and interaction aspects,” McElroy said. “But the fully online courses have gone well, and students have been equally, if not more, successful”.

To McElroy, getting feedback from students in online classes has been his greatest challenge in teaching during the pandemic.

Not only do professors of subjects like biology face troubles regarding the modality of their classes, they run into issues with labs too.

Biology professor Scott Grubbs decided to hold his smaller labs and classes in person but had to adjust the usual procedures for field labs.

“Biology has a Sprinter [van] that is largely used for travel for field labs,” Grubbs said. “This was obviously not allowable, so students were required to drive to field lab localities.”

As COVID-19 cases drop and vaccines continue to roll out, the number of in-person classes in colleges across the nation should rise. The University of Tennessee, Kent State University and Auburn University are just a few of many that have promised a traditional college experience for next year’s students.

“With vaccine availability increasing each day, we are optimistic about a gradual return to normalcy during the next six months,” WKU President Tim Caboni said in a Healthy on the Hill message.

Jacob Latimer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jacoblatimer_.