As has been discussed at our University and many other places besides, higher education is facing a critical juncture. Much of what will become of a given institution of higher learning will depend crucially on how it responds to a number of converging factors, factor which include (but certainly are not limited to) the following:
(1) the so-called enrollment cliff of 2025/26; and
(2) the kinds of learning modalities offered for today’s student.
Whereas (1) above does seem inevitable, it is not necessarily insurmountable; in fact, if (2) is done well, it may well help institutions of higher learning navigate successfully through the throes of (1). In other words, by embracing and carefully implementing a healthy range of teaching and learning modalities, Vanguard University could position herself to face and rise up to the challenges of college enrollment in the years to come.
Having recently completed a course build-out through Vanguard’s Institute of Faculty Development, I have found the Hyflex modality to be extremely versatile. Not only can it serve a promising on-ramp for students who are either physically distant from our campus or otherwise partial to remote learning, but it also is designed to interface with students who increasingly prefer a convenient, cost-saving, and customizable approach to their education.
This is not to say that there isn’t value in an on-campus learning environment, value that may not be exactly replicated in an online environment. This much is true. That said, we–i.e., those of us who hold to on-campus learning as intrinsically superior to that of online, as I have tended to lean–must also recognize that there are benefits to learning online which do not accrue to an on-campus-only environment, (e.g., not the least of which is a willingness among students to participate in discussion who would not normally speak up in class).
For both exigent reasons having to do with sustainability as well as pedagogical reasons having to do with student success, we as a faculty body would do well to explore, embrace, and wisely implement the benefits of online learning for a promising tomorrow.