As we move into an uncertain fall semester, a central question needs to focus on we maintain a student-centered approach to teaching and learning in the face of social distancing, whatever form that might take.

In a recent survey, 75 percent of students expressed dissatisfaction with the experiments undertaken in Spring 2020 collectively and aptly entitled “remote learning.” The students in this survey found “remote learning” unsurprisingly isolating and unsatisfying.

The learning outcomes of the experience are also likely to be problematic, as early indicators seem to be showing. For many, instructors and students alike, the experience was a frustrating one for entirely predictable reasons. We did the best we could. However, any good designer will tell you to learn from the flaws of your experience and iterate moving forward.

I have developed a strategy called Hybrid Plus to try to recapture some of what was lost in the transition. Hybrid Plus starts from a fundamentally student-centric position but recognizes the administrative challenges in what my friend Bryan Alexander calls “toggle term.” The assumption under this scenario is an academic term characterized by unpredictability where institutions may be forced to shut down physical facilities unexpectedly due to localized outbreaks of the virus and/or a more nationalized shutdown. The Hybrid Plus strategy also assumes that no magical solutions such as an early or widely-distributed vaccine will emerge (a Dragon King event). It hopes for the best under such circumstances but plans for the worst.

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About the Author:

Tom Haymes is a technologist, photographer, teacher, social scientist, project manager, and educational technology leader. He was design lead for Houston Community College’s West Houston Institute and is author of the forthcoming book Discovering Digital Humanity (ATBOSH Media). His website is and he tweets at @ideaspacesnet.