Hybrid and Online Learning
The Drexel First-Year Writing program offers online and hybrid versions of its English 101, 102 and 103 courses.
Online writing courses take place mostly on the web, typically using the course management software Blackboard Vista (BbVista). Some courses require that you meet with your instructor face-to-face once or twice for a conference during the term.
Hybrid courses meet face-to-face once per week, and the bulk of the coursework (class discussions, informal writing, access to readings, peer review, turning in assignments) is done online, typically using Drexel Learn. Information about Drexel Learn can be found on the Information Resources and Technology website.
Online and hybrid courses offer both advantages and challenges. The material below will provide you with more information.
Factors to Consider with Online and Hybrid Courses
Online and hybrid learning can have many advantages:
- Time. Most students who love online and hybrid classes enjoy the time the courses allow. You will still be "in class" (virtually) throughout the week, but that time can now be spent when you want. Maybe you do your best work after 11 p.m.
- A lot of writing practice. In most cases, you will write a lot more in an online or hybrid class. A lot more. This constant writing can do wonders for your style and technique, and many students have commented about this in course evaluations.
- Fun written conversations and debates. Some people love to converse and debate online (look at all the news groups, blogs, message board sites and millions of chat conversations going on each day). If you feel more confident writing your thoughts or sharing your thoughts online, an online writing class might be right for you.
- Being judged primarily on your writing. Sometimes, you can feel you are judged in class by aspects other than your writing. This can be frustrating, not just for students, but for professors too. In an online or hybrid class, you are judged on your writing and ideas.
- Learning in a technological environment. Some students are drawn to the bells and whistles of an online learning environment.
- Best of both worlds. In both online and hybrid courses, you can still visit your professor to experience that face-to-face interaction. You just have more flexibility in deciding when those meetings will happen.
Challenges of Online and Hybrid Courses
Online and hybrid learning can also pose challenges. The workload is designed to be similar to face-to face composition courses: the amount of reading and composition will be similar and the classes should demand about the same amount of time. Your experience in an online class is heavily dependent on the kind of student you are. You’ll be especially challenged by these courses if:
- You are not comfortable with technology. You do not need to be a technological expert to take an online class, but if you're not comfortable using computers, some components of the online class will be difficult.
- You do not have easy access to a computer (and really, you need to be sure you have access to more than one computer). Before a term starts, you need to be sure that you have multiple ways to access the Internet and email.
- You have trouble managing your time. Be honest with yourself: Do you need the added encouragement of multiple weekly meetings to stay on track? Important note: More students have probably done poorly in their online or hybrid composition courses at Drexel because of time management issues than for any other reason. You must be self-motivated to participate in online classes.
- You have trouble following written instructions. Much of your communication in the online setting is written. Sometimes, you will be asked to follow careful directions about where to post essays, how to conduct peer reviews and how to complete an online workshop.
- You're a slow typist or you hate to type. Again, you're going to be on that keyboard a lot in an online class.
- You like face-to-face social interaction and find that it helps you learn. The interaction online via message boards can be extremely interesting and social, but some people prefer talking to typing. Some people like to talk in a classroom and they love the buzz of a good face-to-face debate. If that’s you, the online or hybrid course may be a challenge.
- You like to personally know your classmates and professor. Sometimes the online or hybrid class can feel isolating because you don't get the same kind of interaction with your classmates and professor as you would in a face-to-face class. This is a particular issue for first-year students, who are trying to make connections and are learning to feel comfortable on their campus.
- You are forgetful. Some students can never remember that they have to take an online quiz on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. If that's you, you may find the online or hybrid class frustrating.
- You are easily frustrated by technology problems. If you blow your top every time a website won't load, you will probably not like an online or hybrid writing class.