May 2, 2012
Writer: Hayden Coombs
The primary purpose of any change to the curriculum at BYU-Idaho is always to increase the quality of learning. Likewise, the primary motivation for developing or transitioning a course for hybrid delivery is to improve the quality of the learning experience. In an interview with Academic Operations Coordinator, Larry Thurgood, the university's vision for hybrid courses was discussed.
About the purpose of hybrid courses, Brother Thurgood commented that, "Clearly the number one focus is providing the best possible learning experience and environment for students. If we aren't doing that, something must change because we cannot jeopardize a student's education." He continued saying, "Reducing the amount of seat time in evening classes (from 3 to 1½ hours) while maintaining a quality learning experience illustrates one of the benefits of hybrid courses. This also frees up classroom seating, which is an important consideration as the university continues to expand enrollment on a yearly basis."
"It is a goal to have most of the Evening School courses in a hybrid format, for the reasons discussed earlier. However, the development of hybrid courses for use in day school is voluntary and at the discretion of instructors and department chairs because they are the experts and understand how to best meet the needs of the students." Brother Thurgood said that one of his responsibilities is to, "help coordinate resources for teachers who feel hybrid courses would be beneficial to their students." One of the many resources provided to the members of the faculty is the Hybrid Course Tool.
"We believe faculty members are continually looking for ways to innovate and improve their courses. As they learn more about hybrid course delivery and feel it could benefit their students we encourage them to look into it." Brother Thurgood was also quick to point out that, "We are not trying to replace face to face courses. There are some courses that may not easily transition into a hybrid mode of delivery, for example, a dance class or chemistry labs."
One additional advantage for hybrid courses is the flexibility it offers both students and faculty. There are not a lot of policies or rules on hybrid courses because the university does not want to stifle creativity. Brother Thurgood expressed the confidence the university has in the faculty that they know what is best for their students and how to present it. "If a professor feels like they could develop a hybrid course that would be beneficial, we will help them access the resources they will need to do so."You can access the Hybrid Course Tool document by following this link. While resources will not be completely available to the entire campus until the winter 2013 semester, if you have any questions about the development of hybrid courses, please contact Bruce Kusch.