Further Clarity on Hybridization from Recent Announcements

Last week I called out that we are not seeing an Online OR Face-to-face situation for the Fall 2020 term (or Spring 2020 in the Southern Hemisphere), rather we are seeing the acceleration of a pre-COVID trend. The Hybridization of Higher Ed. This is especially true if you allow me leeway to include Fall is online but spring should be face-to-face as a form of hybrid. The mixing of modalities within an academic year.

The hybridization of higher ed, accelerated by COVID-19

The Canadian Digital Learning Research Association released a survey of faculty and administrators asking what planning was looking like in that country.

Faculty and administrators are envisioning multiple scenarios. Most respondents indicated that several possibilities were likely, from fully online options with no in-person classes to hybrid options that may involve a) some students returning to campus while others continue learning online or b) shifting students between in-person and online courses depending on what the local pandemic response warrants.

The Floodgates

From our most recent COVID Transitions podcast episode:

We’ve known this all along that this was going to be a challenging situation, but we believe the the three news items out of California [Cal State and UC plans, and state budget revisions] will really lay down a marker. I would assume that over the next week or two, we’re going to start seeing a lot more news out of higher education on how schools are choosing to plan for the fall. And hopefully they’ll be more definitive than what we’ve seen in many cases so far.

And that is already happening.

Institutional Announcements

More definitive news came from the University of South Carolina, updating their initial plan from May 6.

The public University of South Carolina has staked out an intriguing plan:

Bring students back to campus in August, teach in person for three months and switch to remote instruction after Thanksgiving.

This school is not the only one looking at this Calendar-based method of hybrid in combination with hybrid courses. The University of Notre Dame on Monday announced a similar combination.

The University of Notre Dame will welcome students back to campus for the 2020-21 fall semester the week of Aug. 10, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled, and will forgo fall break in October and end the semester before Thanksgiving, the University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced today in letters to the campus community. [snip]

Faculty also have been asked to prepare to offer courses both in person and through remote instruction, the latter of which will allow any student in isolation or quarantine to continue to participate.

The third, at largest, California public system also made more definite plans, although it was more of a system acknowledging and endorsing what individual colleges were already doing.

California’s 115 community colleges will likely remain an online system of higher education in the fall, its chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said today.

“As we transition to the fall, many of our colleges have already announced that they’re going fully online in the fall,” Oakley said. “I encourage them to continue to do so.”

Ivy Tech, the public community college system for Indiana, announced a mixed approach.

When Ivy Tech Community College students start classes in the fall, they’ll have the option to participate in face-to-face, online or hybrid courses.

Fall semester classes will begin Aug. 24. The state’s community college will invite students back onto campuses throughout Indiana, including its Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart location, for in-person learning while continuing to offer virtual opportunities. Both 8- and 16-week terms are being offered to students.

Students Want Decisions

I would expect a flurry of announcements in this same vein over the next two weeks. And that is not too soon, as a recent survey noted at Inside Higher Ed today [emphasis added].

Thirty-three percent of high school seniors say they are likely to defer or cancel an admission offer that is conditional on attending an all-online college in the fall.

That is the finding of a Carnegie Dartlet survey of 2,800 high school seniors. The survey was conducted in May, making it one of the most recent among many of high school seniors. A major theme of those surveys has been student reluctance to consider all-online models. And this survey provided plenty of evidence for that view.

Ninety-five percent said that they would honor commitments made to colleges that plan to reopen in the fall with social distancing measures in place. But the survey also indicated that the later an institution announces its policy, the more apprehension students will have about it.

There is enormous pressure on schools to make their fall plans public soon, and there is enormous pressure for them to include some form of face-to-face experience. Despite this pressure, however, what we won’t see is “The Unlikeliest Scenario: Fully face-to-face programs in Fall 2020.” Think fully online, think hybrid.