WACO, Texas – McLennan Community College is preparing for “hybrid” classes this fall, which combine in-person and online lectures.
MCC’s VP of Instruction Dr. Fred Hills calls these hybrid classes “blended.”
“A ‘blended’ gives us the flexibility to be able to have face-to-face time with the student and be able to meet them there,” Hills said. “At the same time, it also gives us the flexibility to meet the new room capacity measures we have to put in place.”
With the restrictions, Hills says it cuts the classroom capacity roughly in half.
Schools all over the country are practicing the hybrid class technique, including Baylor University.
“We’re probably gonna break the classes up into two cohorts,” Hills said. “One cohort would take the class say, on Monday in person, the other would see it through Zoom or other technology online and then they would switch the next day – which would be Wednesday.”
The college has a backup plan just in case another wave of COVID-19 makes its way through Central Texas in the middle of the semester again.
“We aren’t sure what second, third, or fourth waves might be coming our way – in which case we’ll quickly have to go back online,” Hills said. “Our goal is to be prepared for both our faculty and our students – so if a decision is made, we can move forward with our instruction without losing time.”
While this change goes beyond MCC’s campus, it may also affect the entire educational system.
“I think we’ll see a lot of interesting forms and formats of education. I don’t think it’s just gonna be simply face-to-face or online,” Hills said. “I think some sort of a blending situation would work out well.”
The college says its plan for when they first threw all their classes online in March, they had less than a week to plan.
With a more thought-out process, administrators at MCC think this plan could last even longer than just the fall semester.
“I expect we’re gonna be in this for the next year,” Hills said. “Waves come and waves go, and until they develop vaccines and the right medicines, until we get that all taken care of, COVID is alive and it’s out there.”
The school says its hands-on lab training will still be held in person.