Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Is Hybrid the Way to Go?

I'm enjoying an unexpected snow day. The snow usually misses Niagara Falls when it hits the Western New York region. Yesterday it blasted Niagara Falls and surely presented a challenge for workers to clear the campus at Niagara University. Today was supposed to be the first day of classes, but instead we got a snow day. Credit to the decision makers who made it an old school snow day. Just because we have the technology doesn't mean we always have to use the technology. Sure, we could've made it a remote first day, but we can all blend in the first day with the next day. 

Speaking of technology....where are we with it, folks? Can we find the "just right" amount of technology to leverage? Up until recently I detested the cliché "leveraging technology," but I've come around. There is technology, and it can be leveraged. Early in the pandemic, more students than ever before got a taste of the college online format. My hunch is, they didn't hate it. (Please share a good data source on this topic if you can.) It looks to me like students came to like elements of taking all or more of their courses online. My in person enrollment is down this year. How appealing is a 9:00 a.m. class in person now when a year ago you could attend class with your camera off? 

I'll teach any and all ways. I came up in the chalkboard era. Give me a board and a piece of chalk and I can make it happen. Give me a technology station and I'll use it. I'll do a different thing on Google Meet. I like a toolkit with lots of tools. I still like to see students in person and connect with them in a room. It still works. But, many times in the Fall semester, while teaching in person on a Mon/Wed/Fri format, it occurred to me do we really need to meet three times a week in person, in the present era? We can preserve the best parts of teaching in person without doing it as much as we used to. And we can utilize technology to complete our teaching and learning needs. There will be Professor X or Professor Y who will say they need to teach totally in person. Luckily Professor X or Professor Y doesn't answer to me. I trust they know what's best for their teaching and learning process. My belief, sitting here on January 18 in the year 2022 on a snow day, is that I can teach sociology classes effectively using a blend of in person and online formats. 

It was cool when we were asked last year by our union to complete a survey related to this very topic. In my survey responses I hyped up the hybrid model, as I'm doing right now. I reserve the right to change my mind. Hell, we all do. But as it stands today, I see the hybrid model as the way forward.