Monday, November 19, 2012

Distance Learning/Teaching - Hybrid Model

For many decades the University of Wisconsin-Madison used distance learning methods as part of their out-reach to rural parts of the state and to reach busy professionals. Experience for several years as a Business School professor with a Medical School Administrative Medicine MBA style degree defined the value of a hybrid program.

Hybrid is defined as using a combination of distance technology learning and face-to-face teaching. The model used contact via available relevant technology (from slow scan video in the 1970s, digital voice and video conference calls in the 1980s, web-based text and video in the 90s and 3-D in the past decade). It also used stone and glass classroom bookends of class start-up and closing. Graduation was an option of in person or by distance.

While some classes may be taught purely at a distance; the very high cost and challenges of many professional degree classes would seem to demand a mix of more face-to-face networking through direct human interaction. I would suggest a mix of 80 percent distance with 20 percent interpersonal in a classroom.

While many universities and corporations use various forms of distance learning for certificates, degrees and even simple meetings (see, the discussion is still open on the success of pure and hybrid models.  Even if a program used only distance learning technology; as a student or participant I would be very tempted to plan a face-to-face meeting during the program and before graduation.
 Clarke L. Caywood, Ph.D. Professor, Northwestern University