Research scientists and epidemiologists predicted that regulations and restrictions preventing the spread of the coronavirus would stretch into 2022. Despite this, schools are choosing to reopen for in-person learning.
As the pandemic blankets the US, many schools, colleges and universities are switching to online or hybrid classes. Although the pandemic is temporary, the option to take hybrid classes should be implemented permanently.
Hybrid classes remedy many of the cons that come with both in-person and virtual learning. One disadvantage of learning in-person is that students can experience social anxiety or bullying. In an interview with CNN, Shun Jester, a fifth grader in Atlanta, Georgia said he chose to take online classes because other students were bullying him in school.
“I really didn’t care about the name calling because I know I’m not any of those things. But I feel so much safer doing virtual learning,” said Jester in the interview with CNN.
However, the opposite is also true. Some students may experience stress and anxiety due to the isolation that comes with online learning. Periodic in-person meetings allow students to meet with their peers, check in for group projects and have focused class discussions before switching to the online component. Therefore, hybrid classes can help students control the amount of social interaction that they are comfortable with.
In a randomized Instagram poll, Joaquín Jáuregui, a Cal State Fullerton student, voted in favor of hybrid classes.
“These courses allow students and staff to get to know each other while also working from home,” Jáuregui said.
Permanent hybrid classes can maximize the benefits of both online learning and in-person learning. Some advantages to taking online classes include flexibility and reduced financial cost. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that about 45% of full-time undergraduate students were employed in 2019. Of that population, 17% worked 20 to 34 hours a week. Combined with rising college tuition, students may be pressured to work while also being enrolled full-time. Hybrid classes offer students an alternative for managing their school and work life.
Additionally, online classes usually come at a reduced cost, because transportation, building maintenance and electricity are not factored into the final cost. However, hybrid classes will require students to meet a few times a week. The cost of hybrid classes may be more expensive than fully-online classes, but it is ultimately a more affordable option compared to traditional face-to-face learning.
While online classes do offer flexibility, in-person classes can eliminate distractions, and although hybrid classes may have infrequent meetings, they may also provide a weekly anchor for students to latch onto.
On the other hand, since there is limited research done on hybrid learning, it is possible that some students might feel wary of embracing this new way of getting their degree. For example, hybrid learning partially relies on stable internet connectivity and a device that connects to the internet, which can provide a stressful obstacle for students when they work remotely.
Jocelyn Martínez, a second year student, said that there should be strictly either in-person or online classes.
“Speaking as a student who had to move to campus, my classes are all online and it is not fair that I have to pay rent and other expenses to only have that class once every other week,” said Martínez.
However, despite the fears of embracing this new system, it’s important to remember that hybrid learning would not be the only option for students. It would simply be another option. Hybrid learning should not replace in-person or online learning, but it could be a practical choice for students searching for a wiggle room between the two.
Through reform of the educational system, hybrid classes should be offered at all grade levels and up. Teachers and professors alike should be granted the power to choose how they want to hybridize their classes, and students should have the liberty to choose how or if they should take those classes.