Online education, while offering clear advantages such as supporting a self-paced learning experience by allowing learning on an on-demand basis rather than a strict class schedule, also has significant drawbacks. Students in an online only course may struggle with structure and content without hands-on instruction, which can help motivate students who otherwise may be distracted or have difficulty working independently. The traditional structure of classroom education is effective, but also comes with a set of obstacles, particularly for nontraditional students. The best way to bridge this gap is hybrid education, which combines technology and personal interaction to support efficiency and self-paced learning while keeping students motivated, social, and connected to their professors and their peers through face to face interactions. While this newer learning model is still under investigation, there is evidence to prove that hybrid courses can lead to academic success.
A high quality hybrid course is not constructed simply by attaching web content to an existing classroom curriculum. Ideally, it should be a unique blended entity that provides improvements on both the online and offline classroom model to create a new and challenging educational experience. Education researcher Norman Vaughan asserts that hybrid education should change the tone of classroom sessions “from a presentational format (i.e., lecturing and information dissemination) to one of active learning (i.e., discussion and debate)” (83). Vaughan then goes on to cite fellow researcher Dodge to bolster his claim that “this form of active learning ‘involves putting our students in situations which compel them to read, speak, listen, think deeply, and write’” (Dodge qtd. in Vaughan 83). Engaging students actively and demanding critical thinking and writing skills can certainly be viewed as a positive result in education, and the learner-focused structure of hybrid education supports the development of these skills.
In order to fully understand the benefits of the hybrid educational model, it is necessary to discuss some of the benefits and flaws of both online and offline education, as successful hybrid education should combine best practices from both disciplines to create a more effective learning environment.
Classroom instruction benefits from time-tested success and is still the dominant educational model, but comes with some negatives, particularly in the digital age. One issue that students in traditional classrooms face is attrition due to boredom and lack of relevancy in education. Some education experts believe that the educational system needs to evolve from a traditional style to a more interactive experience. Derek Bok, former Harvard president, believes that education needs to “move from ‘a teacher-oriented system featuring lectures delivered to passive audiences’ to a ‘learner-centered process in which students become more actively involved in their own...