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DUROSS: Incorporate aspects of hybrid classes into fall 2021

The University should consider some of the benefits — such as flexibility and equitable opportunities — of keeping hybrid classes going into the Fall 2021 semester

While the environment of being in a classroom and in-person instruction is unmatched, the University should step into the future.
While the environment of being in a classroom and in-person instruction is unmatched, the University should step into the future.

As University students plan to return to in-person classes this fall, it is imperative that administration remembers its experience with online learning during the pandemic. While U.Va. was in fear of falling behind the general online learning trend, it made large strides nearly a year ago to provide a unique, relatively successful online learning experience during the pandemic. Thus, it begs the question—  is it beneficial to let the pendulum swing completely back to solely in-person classes at the University? In many ways, this would be overlooking the useful aspects of hybrid learning that occurred over the past year and a half. 

While we obviously do not want to return to the realm of only Zoom meetings, there were some benefits to online learning — predominantly, flexibility. An example that demonstrates the flexibility and possible benefits of continuing hybrid education at the University is Econ 2010. During the fall 2020 semester, Econ 2010 extended the bounds of its enrollment to allow more students to take the extremely important class. On Lou’s List, the average enrollment size of Econ 2010 with Professor Elzinga is 350 students. During the fall semester of 2020, however, the enrollment size increased to 629 to 638 students. Since Econ 2010 is necessary for a plethora of majors or pre-professional schools, it allowed for more students to take a vitally important class for their future career paths. This practice would be useful for students to take those important introduction level classes that are large and mainly test based. As getting into certain classes at the University continues to be difficult, it would be helpful to many in the student body to have the option of taking the class earlier in their time at U.Va. and online.

Also, continuing to offer some hybrid classes at the University would provide an equitable option for students who have other incredibly important priorities in their lives. Although the option for online classes was originally intended to aid students or the families of students struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic, it helped many other aspects of the student body’s life. For example, more flexibility in when and where classes can be taken is helpful for students with jobs. With the ability to take a class online from any secondary location or watch a lecture by a professor earlier in the morning or later at night, it allows for students to make secondary education work for them. Furthermore, for students that occasionally have responsibilities at home or those that tear them away from Grounds, a hybrid option to learning would be incredibly beneficial and equitable for those students who need that option. 

Additionally, maintaining a hybrid component may ease the stresses of taking classes with time blocks that are incredibly close together. From my time as a first year — since it is the only reference I have to in-person learning — I remember the stress of needing to take two specific classes, but you have a ten-minute window to get to one of the classes at McLeod and the other at Gilmer. Therefore, having the option of attending some of those necessary classes on time and online could help expand the classes students can fit into their schedule. This may be a better option than trying to speed through Grounds on a VeoRide  scooter to get to class on time.  

While the environment of being in a classroom and in-person instruction is unmatched, the University should step into the future. All of the lessons learned from online classes during the pandemic should not be forgotten —  instead there should be synthesis from what classes looked like before and after COVID-19. The University should remain open to maintaining hybrid classes and see the benefit of expanding opportunities for the student body.

Evelyn Duross is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com.

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. Columns represent the views of the authors alone.

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