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College: Hybrid Classes Better Suited for Academic Performance

A group of aerospace engineering and computer science students gathers once a week in Atkinson Hall of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) to learn designing technology for the developing world. But their lecturer Derek Lomas never quite shows up in the classroom, at least not in person. He prefers to take classes of the popular ‘Design for Development’ course from his desktop in Mumbai — through videoconferencing that is.

They are using what sciencedaily.com calls  instructional technology.  "University of Houston Department of Health and Human Performance researcher finds that students in a "hybrid class" that incorporated instructional technology with in-class lectures scored a letter-grade higher on average than their counterparts who took the same class in a more traditional format"  they wrote in its Science News column, today.

Practice of hybrid classes are growing so quickly and practicality for students and professors, at UH  and on campuses across the U.S., because of the advantages for students , in presentation of material as accessibility and flexibility. Brian McFarlin, was the researcher at UH and he can testify for example that an upper-level business law and ethics class in the UH Bauer College of Business reaches more than 1,000 students each academic year because of its flexible, hybrid offerings.

But what is the linking between those students at California Institute and the University of Houston?  No secrets. It's technology applied to the education. Same as Mumbai or Australia, students and teacher are able to learn or re-learn at the same time, even being so far away. In this case the use of the videoconferencing is vital and the good handling of PowerPoint files helps these students to obtain grades, on average a letter grade higher than those in the traditional format

Houston students attend class in classrooms, but students as far away as Australia also take and participate in classes. To date, there has been limited literature addressing the effectiveness of such classes.  McFarlin has comments on the advantages in timing of hybrid class: "That means two courses could be taught in a classroom that would normally be dedicated to one traditional lecture course [and] The key to success with instructional technology is to keep the focus on student-related outcomes and learning. This was my objective."

Findings were published in the journal "Advances in Physiology Education."

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