The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

Online and hybrid classes are becoming more prevalent. How is NKU responding?

March 22, 2022

During+the+height+of+the+COVID-19+pandemic%2C+all+classes+at+NKU+were+moved+to+an+online+or+hybrid+format.

Lilly Boden

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, all classes at NKU were moved to an online or hybrid format.

COVID impacts the way teachers and professors, at all levels, teach their class. Especially during the peak of the pandemic, everything that was in person was then moved to strictly online or hybrid.

According to Pew Research Center, 46% of K12 students were getting only online instruction toward the end of 2020. That means almost half of the population of K12 students were learning strictly through online materials.

Now, 75% of colleges in the US offer online courses according to BestColleges and Inside. Since the “cookie cutter” way of teaching in person has changed, schools now need to educate and train teachers and professors on how to teach effectively online.

Quality Matters is a peer review system, offered by Northern Kentucky University, for the assessment and ongoing improvement of online and hybrid course design.

Last fall Zach Hart, public relations professor at NKU, had the first NKU online course to receive a Quality Matters certification.

“This course was extremely important in teaching me how to design my online courses in a way that will enhance the effectiveness of my teaching and help students succeed in my course,” Hart said. “I have redesigned my class to ensure they have more logical and consistent design so students can easily find information and have clear instructions and resources that will help them with their coursework.”

In the Quality Matters course one can learn to apply standards of teaching to courses by seeing examples and applying it to their own. For this training, individuals complete various modules that have instructional materials, tests and hands-on activities.

“After completing the course, my main advice to teachers is to design your courses in ways that make things easy to find and clearly understand,” Hart said. “I would also say it is extremely important to make yourself easily accessible to students and to respond quickly to all questions.”

Online learning is able to utilize technology to bring a more effective model for overcoming obstacles, in this case the pandemic, that traditional teaching faces. COVID-19 allowed students to get accustomed to working on their own via online learning.

Lee Kersting, associate professor of accountancy at NKU, was another professor who completed the Quality Matters course. “It reduces busy work and forces faculty to identify lessons and coursework that links directly to the stated learning objectives for the courses they teach,” Kersting said. “The impacts of COVID on education made me a better professor. All of my classes, both face-to-face and online, are now better designed for student success.”

Because of the sudden shift from face-to-face learning to strictly online, people wonder if the routine of online learning will continue post-pandemic.

“The use of technology will continue to rise and we will use it more and more, not to officially replace us as teachers, but to enhance what we are doing to make our classes better,” Sara Runge of the Center for Educator Excellence said after completing the training.

The full benefit of online learning comes from the joint effort to create structure and to use a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods.

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