Hybrid Learning – Notable Moments of 2020
November 20, 2020
As we move into the holiday season, a time of reflection and thanks, I am excited to share with you a report from Zach Falcon, our Vice President of Hybrid Learning. In this message, VP Falcon shares some of the highlights from Hybrid Learning this year and the ways Unity College faculty have engaged students in their classes using experiential elements and innovative technologies. While we know that 2020 has not been the ideal year for any college student, I am proud of the way our faculty and students have embraced these new modalities to make the most of their classes this year. Below is the report I received from VP Falcon.
Dear President Khoury,
Over the past three months, Hybrid Learning employees have been active in developing courses and experiences that serve our current students while also planning for the future. As we launch into our third Hybrid Learning term, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the notable moments thus far.
Though Hybrid Learning is designed to deliver primarily in-person courses, we have learned that remote learning can certainly include hands-on and experiential opportunities. Professor Dylan Dillaway, for example, enlisted his Dendrology students in a hands-on project that developed their tree identification skills while helping others connect with nature through creating public walking tours via PocketSights. These tours are now available in communities from Fair Haven, Vermont to Hamilton Township, New Jersey to Bloomington, Indiana. Dr. Dillaway shares his passion for teaching and learning about forests in this video for Hybrid Learning.
Like students in Dendrology, the students in Professor Aly McKnight’s Wildlife and Fisheries Techniques class found that our commitment to experiential learning persists regardless of modality or location. Their data collection project sent all the students into the field and their analysis was richer for the range of habitats they shared:
Dr. McKnight is a leader among the Hybrid Learning faculty in adopting and embracing new tools and technologies that enhance learning, whether remote or in person. Here is a video of Dr. McKnight demonstrating how a simple smartphone app can help biologists measure forest cover and develop habitat assessments. She is particularly excited by the prospect of leading excursion courses from the Quaker Hill campus “hub” to Unity College “spoke” properties such as Sky Lodge for immersive field experiences.
While we are working to fulfill our obligations to Flagship students who are completing their degrees and delivering high-quality courses to students who have opted in to the Hybrid Learning program, we are also eager to share with students what the future will look like, once this “covid remote” period ends and we can return to in-person learning.
A great example of the promise of Hybrid Learning can be found in this video from Conservation Law Enforcement Professor Mike Moody. As Professor Moody explains, the five-week terms and flexible schedule are a significant benefit to students both educationally and professionally. The in-depth skills building possible during a five-week term will position students to succeed in internship and job placement, and the flexible schedule and modality agnostic courses will allow them to actually take the jobs they are preparing for. A good example of that is Garrett Moody, who was able to continue his work as a Maine Deputy Game Warden at Moose Lake into the fall, when under the semester model he would have had to cut his experience short.
Garrett’s testimonial in this video is a powerful affirmation of the value of Hybrid Learning’s flexibility, as is this comment from Matt Schipps, a Hybrid Learning student working on a fire crew for the Bureau of Land Management in Montana:
“As sad as I was not being able to attend in-person classes for my last semester at Unity, I was given a unique alternative. Hybrid Learning allowed me to be able to continue working as a wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Land Management as well as take classes online. Normally I would have left mid-August but now I can manage work (and keep up with school) until the end of September.” – Matt Schipps, Unity College Senior
For me, the experiences of Matt and Garrett and many other current students validate the work to develop Hybrid Learning. When fully launched, Hybrid Learning will put students first by providing robust online experiences and face-to-face courses that deliver immersive, hands-on learning opportunities that are affordable, accessible and flexible.
We are serving students and making progress, and I look forward to fully realizing the potential of this powerful learning model.
VP Falcon said it best, there is great potential within Hybrid Learning to create truly fantastic learning experiences for our students. While we look forward to being able to safely offer in-person learning once it is safe to do so, I am glad to share with you the ways in which a Unity College education continues to be one focused on experiential learning.
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury
President and CEO, Unity College