Aug 15 2022

Checklist: Is Your Campus Ready for Hybrid Learning?

Take these steps to ensure you have the proper infrastructure and policies in place to support remote learning.

As higher education adopts more hybrid learning models, many colleges and universities are striving to update their processes and infrastructure to meet the demand.

Nearly half of all students and 35 percent of faculty members now prefer hybrid environments with a mix of remote and in-person learning, according to a Barnes & Noble College Insights survey.

Hybrid learning models are an excellent way for institutions to give students more flexibility while still offering opportunities for face-to-face contact with professors and other students, says Jennifer Mathes, CEO of the Online Learning Consortium. While technology plays a critical role, higher ed institutions must also ensure they have the processes and training to support it.

“It’s more than just having the technology available,” says Mathes. “Training on how to use the tools and teach in this type of learning environment is critical to creating experiences where students and faculty can be successful.”

Here are four questions higher education institutions should ask to ensure their technologies and processes are ready for hybrid learning.

Click the banner below to learn more about incorporating hybrid learning this semester.

Do You Need to Update Your Policies and Processes?

While more schools have adopted hybrid learning models in the past several years, they haven’t necessarily updated all of their policies, says Patricia O’Sullivan, content manager at Every Learner Everywhere. Hybrid classes can affect attendance and enrollment policies and have an impact on facilities, staff and faculty, she says.

As schools adopt new digital tools, they must consider policies and processes on testing, attendance verification and communication via digital technologies. Security is especially important, and legal teams and IT should have a chance to review products and contracts. “Both institutional security and student security are considerations here, and each institution has its own threshold of risk that needs to be assessed against tools that integrate with institutional systems,” O’Sullivan says.

Do You Need Any Additional Collaboration Tools to Meet Demand?

How and what sort of collaboration tools you may adopt depends on your learning management system (LMS) and any institutional contracts with GoogleMicrosoft or Adobe, says O’Sullivan. While collaboration among faculty can be handled with project management software, schools may want to consider the preferences of students and the nature of their collaboration. “Do they need to share documents, spreadsheets, presentation software? Or are they simply communicating information with each other?” she says.

Schools also must consider how hybrid learning fits into their overall institutional strategy, says Mathes. This will help them identify the appropriate technology and collaboration tools to help instructors build more meaningful interactions in their classrooms. “Too often, the focus is just on making sure an LMS is provided without thinking about what other changes need to be made," says Mathes.

READ MORE: The benefits of standardizing collaboration tools in higher ed.

Do You Have the Right Hardware to Enable Remote Instruction?

Collaboration tools are only effective if they’re working in conjunction with hardware that can support an engaging learning environment. Faculty and staff working and teaching remotely also need the right equipment to do their jobs efficiently. Additionally, having strong networking and security tools in place helps keep remote working and learning environments running properly.

Here are some options to consider.

Audiovisual Tools

Laptops and Accessories

Security and Networking

Are Your Classes as Accessible and Equitable as They Could Be?

Online class content should be checked for accessibility by a specialist who can run diagnostics on screen readers and automatic captioning, says O’Sullivan. Ideally, these digital learning tools should be assessed before an institution signs a contract with a vendor. However, at some institutions, faculty members have the freedom to choose their own digital learning tools and may not think about accessibility or equity. “Equity for online class content involves the cost of access, potential content bias, ease of navigation, and policies that create barriers," says O’Sullivan.

Faculty can review courses for these issues with tools like Equity Review Tool, the IMPACT Framework, the Quality Matters Scorecard and guidebooks such as Getting Started with Equity.



Illustration by Maria Kovalchuk

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