Many colleges spend the summer preparing for a new fall reality: continuing online education. The list of university projects currently shows that almost half plan for more than one semester. Of this group, the majority consider a hybrid approach that offers a combination of online and on-campus education. Below are some facts concerning universities and online education.

  • Almost half of U.S. universities plan to start some form of online course this fall.
  • Many institutions intend to adopt a hybrid model of offering classroom and online lessons.
  • Students considering a transfer should use accreditation and support services as a yardstick.
  • Tuition fees and academic goals are key factors that students should prioritize when choosing online courses.

As schools make decisions and announce their plans, two main goals have emerged: universities want to keep students, faculties, and staff as safe and healthy as possible, and also enable students to progress towards their academic credentials. At best, it’s a tricky balance, and no one has all the answers.

When considering online education, some questions that might surface are: what will online courses look like in the fall? Should you reconsider your plans for the semester?. Now find out what to expect when weighing your options.

Hybrid, Online, and Distance Learning Formats

Before the pandemic, many universities were already online, although the number of courses or programs were limited. This change increased online enrollment at major public universities. But not all schools had this experience to draw on.

Amidst the unexpected and inevitable circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, distance learning has not always gone well. Many students were frustrated when they changed classes.

Effective online courses focus on specific learning objectives, provide clear direction, and provide opportunities for collaboration.

Moving to a remote location was a hasty response that prompted universities to do some rescheduling to keep classes in one form or another during the pandemic emergency. However, many lessons have been learned since then, and many institutions are applying these lessons to create topnotch online learning experiences for students this fall.

Designing and developing productive online courses takes time. University courses designed to be entirely online have the following characteristics:

  • Focus on specific learning objectives
  • Give clear educational instructions
  • Include opportunities for collaboration and communication
  • Provide interactive and engaging activities and materials
  • Use technology to enhance the learning experience

The hybrid approach to learning, which includes both classroom and online components, is often called “the best of both worlds.” Hybrid courses are usually structured to enable students to do reading and homework on their own online and attend in-person meetings with their teachers and classmates to discuss and conduct activities together.

This fall, many schools plan to adopt blended learning to reduce the number of people in classrooms and on campus. HyFlex and Low Residence are two examples of hybrid models that you can find. Universities structure their courses and services in various ways to achieve multiple goals, including a positive campus experience, social distancing, and flexibility.