Campus, News

Administration deems hybrid instruction as ‘new normal’

According to campus administrators, Long Beach State is looking toward a future of continuing both online and in-person courses, with potentially a slight increase in face-to-face courses to be offered in the spring.

Jody Cormack, vice provost of academic programs and dean of graduate studies, said she feels that this blend of face-to-face and virtual courses is the “new normal” for CSULB and all higher education.

“I think that online and hybrid instruction is one portion of the future of higher education,” Cormack said. “Now that we have spent time and energy to develop quality online or hybrid course offerings, I think that we have the opportunity to reach many students that we were not previously able to.”

Cormack said the administration is getting the sense from campus stakeholders that students and faculty choose CSULB “for the campus experience,” which includes the variety of the Beach’s course offerings and range of activities that are available on campus.

Without in-person instruction, though, students and faculty miss out on much that the campus has to offer.

“Hopefully we will be able to continue with a mix of both offerings to meet the needs of all stakeholders,” Cormack said.

According to Cormack, CSULB may be able to offer more on-campus classes in the spring if they are deemed essential by the health department, in accordance with the chancellor’s directive.

“Any course approved for face-to-face instruction in fall will also be approved for spring,” Cormack said. “The highest priority for approval of on-campus courses would be given to ones that are essential as defined by public health, and also are required with no other options for students to graduate in spring.”

While roughly 3% to 3.5% of classes are being held on campus for the fall 2020 semester, administrators expect to see a slight increase come spring 2021 with about 3.5% to 4% of classes offered face-to-face.

Campus administrators are currently working with public health offices to see if CSULB can further increase on-campus courses.

“Our top priority is our students’ health as well as our employees and campus community,” Cormack said.

Courses unable to be taught online, according to Cormack, include classes that require specific equipment or labs on campus, or that require physical interaction.

Therefore, most courses offered on-campus this semester are from the engineering, mathematics, natural science and health and human sciences departments, as well as the College of the Arts. Cormack said these are mostly teacher preparation classes and clinical internship courses.

Kirsty Fleming, associate vice president for faculty affairs, said she feels that students and faculty are adjusting well to virtual instruction and foresees this adaptation to an increased use of technology in teaching for semesters to come.

“Some faculty members are finding effective ways to teach with technology that they enjoy, and some students are enjoying learning via technology,” Fleming said.

Prior to this semester, roughly 5% of CSULB’s course offerings were held online, Cormack said, and she expects to see courses in the future offered in multiple teaching modes for students to choose from, including face-to-face, online and a hybrid option.

“Hopefully, in doing so, we will be able to offer learning opportunities to increase access for all new and returning students,” Cormack said.

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