Hybrid Education: Students’ Perspectives
Cassandra Matthews ~ Assistant Editor
As classes at the University of Lynchburg resumed on Aug. 12, students are settling into a new routine that includes both online and hybrid learning.
In the interest of keeping the community safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19, face-to-face class instruction is limited for the fall 2020 semester. Some classes are being taught exclusively online, while others are hybrid, and include both online and in-person components.
Most students and faculty have had experience with online course delivery after the spring 2020 semester was moved online. Lillian Smith, a junior, says “last semester was definitely very important in preparing us for this fall semester […] You have to set up your schedule to make sure you’re waking up on time, you still have to dress properly and find a space in your home or in your room that you can stay focused [and] I’ve been able to do all of that, which has been really good. I already have that reset up from spring semester going into this fall semester.”
Rebecca Parks, also a junior, says that it is not just the returning students who are better prepared this semester than last. Professors are finding new ways to teach. Parks says, “It seems like my professors are using a lot of different means of being able to present information instead of just [making us take an online test]. I’m just getting more comfortable with those platforms and not feeling as intimidated by them, [and] I think the professors have definitely learned how to be engaging and try to make everything as interesting as possible online.”
Smith agrees. She says that the professors “are more organized now, now they know how to set up the Google Meets and how to set up reminders so that we’re not just having to search through our emails, [overall] I think they’re much more organized and set up for success themselves, which then helps us as students be successful as well.”
Smith has one online class, while her other three are hybrid. As an environmental science student, she highlights how her science class this semester will operate in a different manner than her science classes before: “I’m going to have to do [a lot of labs] by myself, so I won’t get that group connectivity […] We are going to be able to do them online, but it’s not hands on with everybody else, which is what science is all about.”
Parks has two hybrid classes and two online classes, as well as an independent study being conducted online with a faculty member. So far, she feels that her schedule is working out for her. She observes, “The two courses that I view as a little more challenging are the two that have a face-to-face component, so I’m grateful [to] have one day out of the week where I can go and ask professors questions face-to-face so I’m happy about that, and then the two courses that are exclusively online are courses that are in my major and minor that I have a lot of motivation for anyway.”
Both Smith and Parks see some positives to how their education is currently unfolding. “Getting this online experience is very important, because a lot of communication [that occurs in] the actual job force happens online [and] I think it has been great that we have been able to do this so that we can be prepared for the future so that when we are getting out into the real world of full-time jobs, we’re not stuck and not knowing what to do, and having to learn something new,” says Smith. Parks says that “at the beginning of the semester, I was pretty bummed because I felt like we would lose the college experience. I like face-to-face classes, I like discussions, but now […] I feel like as a commuter, I’m saving a lot of time by not having to drive to campus as often, and not sitting in a class and then going home and doing more homework for that class. I mean of course we’re having to do that class online and from home, but I just feel like there is actually a lot more availability in our schedules, so I’ve been enjoying that, and I feel like I’m still having that college experience from my courses, so I don’t really feel like we’re missing out too much.”