Hybrid programs are on the rise this year as we all hunker down in defense against the COVID-19 pandemic. A hybrid program is an in-person and online learning program, and it’s starting to become the new normal. Why?
In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how the demand for more affordable and flexible education has changed students’ expectations and educational institutions’ offers, and how COVID-19 has forced us to adapt or wither as learners.
It hardly seems like nearly a year ago when the whispers of a novel Coronavirus first reached the US. At first, it seemed like a simple flu, sweeping across China and other parts of Asia, hardly a threat to the US, so far away. Then, news began to spread of infections in Europe, the US, New Zealand, and other countries. Then, we went into lockdown. Schools and businesses closed, and the way we interacted with one another and learned changed overnight.
COVID-19 has claimed about 1.6 million lives since then, with around 300,000 in the US alone. Even now, nearly a year later, we’re still struggling to get back to a sense of normalcy, and it’s unclear whether or not we’ll return to classes permanently anytime soon.
With the spread of COVID-19 came the development of hybrid programs, or rather, the increased use of these programs. These programs existed well before COVID, but the disease has forced us to pioneer a new normal, and hybrid programs are part of that.
Whether you’re looking for healthcare classes in Clearwater or Los Angeles, you’re probably looking for something both flexible and affordable. Modern life doesn’t leave much room for strict learning schedules, and flexibility is a must. But how do you balance flexibility with COVID-19 precautions? Hybrid programs do just that. Most hybrid programs require students to attend in-person classes a few times per week, the rest of the classes being held entirely online. This gives you the flexibility to still do your coursework without putting yourself at risk. For social distancing, this option means that classes can be staggered, only allowing a certain number of students into a classroom at any given time.
The prospect of completing coursework from the comfort of home has driven many to seek out these hybrid programs instead of traditional education. But, that raises certain questions. Should online schooling cost as much as traditional schooling?
The Need To Social Distance In The Future
Even as we’re synthesizing and distributing the first of the COVID-19 vaccines, there’s still the question of how we’ll gather in the future. Will social distancing be encouraged even after the virus has run its course? There’s some speculation that it might be better that way, since we’re a global community of over seven billion people now, and the way we connect and travel makes the spread of such diseases that much easier. It’s taken just under one year to synthesize the vaccine for COVID-19, but it spread so quickly in part because of our travel and social habits—and we’ve lost over one million people worldwide because of it.
The New Normal?
Hybrid programs and online classes could very well become the new normal in the future. Traditional education models involve large bodies of students living and studying on campus, as well as others commuting from surrounding areas and moving on-campus from out of state. That’s a quick way to encourage the spread of a virus like COVID-19!
Is that to say that traditional education models will go out the window? Of course not. We’ll likely still have sprawling campuses, large class sizes, and Friday night football games, but the virus has brought to light some glaring problems in our social habits, infrastructure, and the healthcare system.
Embrace The Hybrid Model
Let’s be honest—none of us wants to sit in a classroom 4-5 days per week, and studying from home all the time isn’t exactly conducive to productivity. Having an in-between option gives us the leverage we need to make the most out of our education, and allows us to keep ourselves safe from viruses and other dangers. The hybrid model is being used in public and private school systems on the K-12 side as well, to great effect. There’s a chance that we’ll see more of this in the future, but for now, we need to follow CDC guidelines, social distance, and stay safe to prevent the spread of COVID, and the subsequent extension of this nearly year-long ordeal.
The Bottom Line
Which model do you prefer? Traditional classrooms, hybrid programs, or online only? Whatever the case may be, remember that it’s up to all of us to work together to return society to a sense of normalcy. No one can predict the future, but we can certainly make an effort to create a better one.