North Carolina Central University leverages hybrid living and hybrid learning to transform how students live and learn, attract quality faculty and staff, and build community

“Hybrid living” is changing the student experience at this HBCU

North Carolina Central University leverages hybrid learning to transform how students live and learn, attract quality faculty and staff, and build community

Higher education has been tasked with learning how to evolve to meet the needs of its students and stakeholders, all of whom want to ensure their financial investments and time spent on campus and in classrooms will position them to be successful after graduation. An impending enrollment cliff just a few years away is making this evolution even more imperative.

At North Carolina Central University (NCCU), campus leaders have moved beyond hybrid learning and have developed a concept of “hybrid living” to improve student retention and deliver a stellar student experience that meets students’ varying needs.

“Our campus’ approach to hybrid is strongly linked to student retention as well as recruitment of high-quality faculty and staff. I truly believe that beyond hybrid learning, we’re really in a chapter of hybrid living,” said Leah Kraus, NCCU’s Chief Information Officer. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were trying to answer how can we use technology to deliver the same level of programming both inside and outside of the classroom and administratively? The idea of community at an HBCU, at minority-serving campuses or smaller campuses in general, is different than on a large campus, and it was crucial to keep up the high-touch engagement.”

NCCU’s hybrid living and learning policies have evolved naturally over time as technologies and student demand changed.

The campus was well-positioned to stay in touch with faculty, staff, and students early on in the pandemic thanks to a conscious choice to embrace technology and use it whenever and wherever it enhanced learning and communication–along with the knowledge that network security was where it needed to be.

“Part of what made us so successful is that we invested in a complete end-to-end network refresh in 2018, and with that, Webex was the first enterprise license tool that was made available. This means that we started the pandemic with the network and familiarity with collaboration and video conferencing in place,” Kraus said.

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Laura Ascione

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