Hybrid learning, smaller physical additions at universities tend to be, and that’s why

The pandemic has forced us to try new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to education. For example, a virtual classroom is difficult, but useful, because it has opened the door to learning opportunities among a wide range of university students.

Online learning provides security, greater flexibility, and equity among students with low or immunocompromised living, as well as those who go to campus and / or have more jobs to cover increased tuition costs. Faculty members who care for elderly parents say they prefer to be less susceptible to infectious diseases when hundreds of students are sitting in large halls – and those sitting in the back are still watching the monitor. Students who go online for classes late are enjoying the fact that no one is waiting for the locked building to open.

According to an April 11 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, institutions that have discontinued online learning are now finding that students are lagging behind for many of these reasons.

We can understand and support those who prefer to teach and learn in person for the warmth of living human interaction, but hybrid learning has undoubtedly become part of the lexicon of higher education. For example, at Pace University in New York, a new online center provides teachers with the technology they need to create video content for their classes and train them to increase student engagement online.

However, the advantages of hybrid learning go beyond the issues of access and equity.

Prior to COVID-19, colleges and universities across the country had already reconsidered and reduced their physical footprint by spending on new construction and maintenance of old facilities. The pandemic has accelerated this trend of deeper consideration of the rational use of available space for long-term sustainability. This is a departure from the premise of new construction and expansion in the traditional master plans of many colleges and universities.

At the heart of the issue is what The Chronicle of Education called in its February 11 online magazine article, “Excess Campus”.

“Millions of dollars are needed to build new facilities and millions of dollars to operate and maintain them,” he said. Every institution is different, but they all face similar questions in the post-pandemic period as to whether it makes more sense to replace traditional brick and mortar, replace space, and even make it smaller instead of building and expanding it.

Last week, Daily Camera reporter Annie Mehel wrote an in-depth article about the University of Colorado Boulder and its efforts to analyze its need for physical space in the post-pandemic world. What he discovered was that CU Boulder was in line with this trend across universities, facing concerns about backlog of maintenance costs and a concerted effort to study the hybrid.

CU Boulder has $ 1.3 billion in maintenance delays. The renovation of the Helems Arts and Sciences building alone is worth $ 89.5 million. That’s a lot of money by any measure.

Hearing David Kang, Boulder’s vice chancellor for infrastructure and sustainability, said our advanced university intends to re-imagine its space with hybrid learning, hybrid work and remote work that will all play a role in the future of campus life.

“If we can really make better use of our space, we don’t need to build new (ones),” Kang says. “It’s a philosophy we definitely adopt. I think the philosophy of making better use of available space is more common than it was in the past.”

We believe that this effort should definitely include a more in-depth consideration in the return of staff administrative offices to meet the needs of students. The many layers of the CU Boulder campus bureaucracy have offices and buildings that currently house administrators and support staff who can and can even work from a distance.

Today’s high school students have studied across the pandemic online and will find college hybrid learning very normal; Faculty members who include their hybrid studies will have their classrooms free for more courses, and fewer students and staff leaving means free parking on campus.

What is most needed at this point is information. The CU Boulder needs to take inventory of its physical space and listen to its students, faculty, and staff to determine their use and interest in hybrid learning. The master plan can be easily modified and administrators can understand that the most rational way is to use the available space instead of building more efficient buildings. If COVID-19 had hit us five years ago, CU Boulder might have been forced to reconsider expanding its southern campus. It can still be.

It would also be wise for our institute to invest in its current admissions today, instead of having plans to increase the number of its students by tens of thousands in the future – especially given the influx of students who are already in need of housing.

Our outstanding university is strong and will continue to compete as long as it focuses on its core mission, which is to be a “leader in addressing the humanitarian, social and technological challenges of the 21st century”. This can also include a comprehensive hybrid study, with a small physical addition that is actually capable of maintaining it.

– Julie Marshall for the editorial board

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