The needs of adult learners are changing, and universities interested in retention are turning to more hybrid models

hybrid-online-learningTradition-rich Christian Brothers University watched in alarm a decade ago as online, nonprofit colleges began chomping away at nighttime enrollment.

“They all had online options. For many adults, it appeared to be more convenient or faster,” said Toni Ross, dean of the College of Adult Professional Studies. “It was attractive until they got into it and realized maybe they still needed the instructor’s support and having a peer group was important. We’ve seen a 360-degree change in what adult students want from online.”

CBU rolled out its solution in the spring, a 40-60 split between the traditional classroom, which requires students’ presence on campus, and the online realm. Instead of two night classes a week, they now attend one night, for two hours.

That eliminates the challenge for professors, like Bevalee Vitali, of trying to captivate working adults past 8 p.m.

“After 8 o’clock, you lose students’ interest. My goodness, they are tired,” she said. “By having 60 percent online, they can decide when they have the energy and are focused the most to do the work.”

Fully online learning is by no means on the way out. But it has hit some noticeable bumps…

(Next page: Examples of hybrid’s success and full online’s challenges)

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