Student attitudes about hybrid online classes

From “Attitudes, beliefs and attendance in a hybrid course,” by E. Yudko, R. Hirokawa and R. Chi, Computers & Education, Volume 50, Issue 4, May 2008, Pages 1217-1227, doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.11.005:

Student attitudes towards combining distance learning techniques with traditional lecture tend to be positive.

While students may believe that these hybrid courses have a negative impact on attendance, they do not self-report an actual impact.

Students do believe that they benefit from this technology, but the belief is strongest in those who are most computer/Internet literate.

These conclusions support the idea that the integration of online technology with traditional classes can enhance the learning experience for students.  This study notes:

An important result because students spend more time engaged when they have positive attitudes about the delivery method (Pan et al., 2005).

The “positive” reaction reported in this study suggests an answer for how educators can improve motivation in their students: design classes to reflect how students use the Internet.  The conclusion that the perception of a “benefit” from the hybrid course increases in students with greater computer and Internet literacy seems to underline this idea.

These conclusions suggest that efforts to increase computer and Internet literacy can improve the student learning experience in hybrid online courses.  For example, this study notes that “students who are most appreciative of these additions to a course are those with the best computer skills” and:

… students tend to recommend a greater level of computer/Internet preparedness prior to taking online courses (Richards & Ridley, 1997). In other words, helping students to develop strong computer/Internet skills prior to taking distance education classes may be critically important to improving student engagement.

This study looks at the needs and attitudes of rural students and finds that hybrid courses reduce “many of the costs and inconveniences associated with attending college” and that students reported that “having online recordings of the instructor’s classroom review sessions/notes was useful.”  In contrast to concerns over classroom attendance, this study finds that “having such materials available did not seem to impact class attendance.”

This study “strongly suggests that the assumption that hybridizing courses negatively impacts attendance is erroneous.”  Moreover, this study points out that “when the rural culture of our local situation is considered, having such materials available online may, in fact, increase engagement by allowing students who would otherwise be forced to miss class (because the travel distances required in a rural setting are too great) to still obtain the materials that were presented in lecture.”

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