Criminal justice professor recommends hybrid format

Cambrea Schrank

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With fewer in person classes this semester, more courses are being taught online, either synchronously or asynchronously. However, a format of instruction that students may be less familiar with is the hybrid or blended option.   

     Hybrid courses have both in-person instruction and online learning (e.g., video lectures, online discussions or activities). Hybrid instruction is 50 percent – 99 percent online while blended instruction is mostly in the classroom, 1 percent – 49 percent.  

     Brian McPike is a professor teaching introduction to criminal justice, one of just five hybrid courses offered at UCCS this fall. “This is a real neat class for students in the criminal justice program or anyone who wants to learn more,” McPike said   

     Although hybrid courses have more recently increased in popularity due to COVID-19, McPike has been familiar with this format for a few years. “It started with weekend university, back in 2012 or 2013, and then switched to hybrid to make it easier for students who want an online experience.”  

     McPike said that, overall, teaching a hybrid course has been a great experience. He uses Teams for optional class meetings for students who do not feel comfortable coming to class or have other obligations. In the event of the campus reverting to a fully remote setting, McPike is confident that the hybrid format would allow for an easy transition to fully remote learning.  

     The hybrid class meets in person once a month for a full semester. “It’s an opportunity to meet classmates,” McPike said. “So far, we have met twice with no issues. There is great participation and students seem to enjoy it. Their interest level is admirable.” 

Photo by Zach Robbins.

     A hybrid course format allows for a lot more flexibility, according to McPike. In the wake of a pandemic, flexibility has proved important to how the university operates.  

     “It was really cool to see how the university stepped up [last semester] and how quickly everyone switched over to online. It was a successful transition,” McPike said. “This semester has really exceeded my expectations. It’s been just refreshing.”   

     “I’m really encouraged by the fact that UCCS supports the [hybrid] format. Online has gotten a bad rep in the past. It’s tough – it can be a lot of work. Hybrid classes try to keep that balance.”  

     McPike went on to encourage anyone who is hesitant to take a hybrid course to give it a shot. “Technology is a wonderful tool,” McPike said. “There’s so much we can do with Canvas. The technology specialists employed, especially in the School of Public Affairs, work hard to keep it up and going. They stand behind instructors.”   

     McPike confirmed that when the class meets in-person, they take every precaution.   

     “Everyone is wearing a mask. There are no issues with it that I’ve observed. Students enjoy their time together. It allows students to catch up while maintaining their academic standing.”   

     As COVID-19 cases at UCCS continue to rise, McPike has not noticed many changes to student attendance. “Students are taking precautions. They’re being proactive on their part. They’re taking self-assessment before coming to class.”   

      According to the Office of the Registrar, UCCS for the fall semester is offering 316 remote asynchronous courses, 567 remote synchronous courses and only five hybrid courses.