Hybrid courses give engineering students flexibility over their schedules while working towards university’s 2020 goal

Many FIU students juggle work, families and other responsibilities while taking full course-loads; being able to have a more flexible class schedule goes a long way in helping these students learn and succeed. In line with the university’s 2020 strategic plan, the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) is leading the way as it works to offer more hybrid modality courses to students.

While FIU has been offering online and hybrid classes to students for some time, the university launched the Pilot Program for First Time Hybrid Teaching in August 2015 to encourage more professors to adjust their curriculum to include online components. With 19 courses this semester, CEC has offered a total of 48 hybrid courses since the launch of the Pilot Program for First Time Hybrid Teaching. Combining 50 percent online classes with 50 percent classroom instruction, hybrid classes aim to offer faculty and students scheduling flexibility while still offering face-to-face time.

“Meeting once a week allows more students to be enrolled in the course and fulfill core requirements more easily,” said Berrin Tansel, who is currently teaching Solid and Hazardous Waste Management in the hybrid modality. “Students also come to class more prepared and have access to all the course material online, which allows them to look ahead and study at their own pace.”

At CEC, students can take hybrid courses in various disciplines across the college, ranging from Introduction to Human Computer Interaction, and Information Security and Privacy to Introduction to Mechatronics and Construction, and Cost Estimating for construction management. Another way CEC is making online learning accessible is through FEEDS, a video-based online and distance learning system, which allows students to watch class lectures and keep-up without having to physically come to campus. FEEDS also gives students the opportunity to re-watch lectures to gain a better understanding of the subject matter.

“The flexibility provides the professors the opportunity to share more knowledge with the students, which helps the students graduate faster,” said Shekhar Bhansali, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “In electrical engineering, we’ve moved toward offering all online classes, providing students more options to advance their degrees.”

In line with the university’s goal, as outlined in the strategic plan, to offer 30 percent of student credit hours in the hybrid modality by 2020, CEC will be expanding its hybrid course offering in the coming semesters.

“We expect to see a steady growth in the number of hybrid courses offered by the college,” said Anthony McGoron, associate dean for academic affairs. “Hybrid modules are a good balance between fully in-person and fully on-line, especially for engineering and computing courses in which learning to solve problems and work on teams is so critical. The hybrid experience allows students to repeatedly watch a lecture at their convenience, but still provides time to interact with the instructor and other students in the class.”