Author: Dr. Craig Monk, Provost & Vice-President, Academic
If you have been following our Growing Boldly–Insights updates, you will have already read about the importance of place and growth in our strategic vision process. Both of these factors are also key when considering how technology might influence our future.
MacEwan University is a place-based institution. We know that the face-to-face connections between faculty and students in our first-class facilities are integral to the MacEwan experience. We are not going to step away from the commitments that come with being Edmonton’s downtown university—and, although we have a rich history of distributed programming, we have no intention of becoming an online university.
At the same time, we must acknowledge that we are bursting at the seams within our physical footprint. Growing our enrolment to meet demand will mean finding ways to use the space we have more efficiently.
That is why, for MacEwan, the future is hybrid.
What might a hybrid future look like? There are many ways to organize a model of shared space. One simple example could be a twice-a-week section where students and their professor are physically on campus in a face-to-face classroom on Tuesday. Then, on Thursday, the same class would engage in a combination of high-quality digital synchronous or asynchronous activities.
Regardless of how a course’s time is divided, the goal of embracing hybridity is not to target the cost of delivery (as we already take pride in our efficiency) or to increase class size. The benefit of hybrid delivery is the ability to offer more sections that share the same space while supplementing traditional course materials with digital products developed to support greater inclusivity.
I must acknowledge that it is the incredible response from our faculty colleagues to the challenges of the pandemic that presents us with this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Leveraging the approaches built and refined over the past year will enable us to be more dynamic and flexible and to extend our reach.
And I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work that will come with embracing hybridity. This modality is neither a “set-it-up-and-forget-it” nor a “one-size-fits-all” model. That is why we are committed to supporting our faculty and students as we move forward. We will reinvest in high-quality technology for our classroom spaces, and our new digital learning environment will incorporate the tools we need to engage. By seeking a new, diversified connectedness, we will do more than simply replace seat time, ensuring that we continue to meet our commitment to quality, internally and externally.
As we build more capacity, we will begin to introduce more truly hybrid courses, use our space more efficiently, provide more flexibility for students and faculty, and extend our offerings to a broader range of students.
When I consider how people have used digital tools in the past year alone, I am encouraged by the potential of a hybrid future. I think that channelling our institution’s innovative spirit in this way will be truly transformative.
Dr. Trimbee's strategic vision question
In the interest of keeping our strategic vision conversation going, Dr. Trimbee will ask a question during each Growing Boldly — Insights instalment and invite you to share your thoughts using the strategic vision feedback form
Q. What do you think a hybrid future might look like?
“When I think about “growing boldly” in the context of scholarship, I first think about why students should care whether or not faculty members at an undergraduate institution actively engage in scholarly activity.”
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