Matt DeCilio took his first hybrid class in spring 2013 and found that it helped him improve his time-management skills while introducing him to subject matter outside of his Management major.

“I am a commuter, and I had five courses last semester,” he says. “My workload was very demanding. I took this elective without having to worry about being on campus at a certain time or place. But I still had the benefit of interacting with my professor and other students in person and online.”

He liked it so much, he is taking another hybrid class this fall.

Turning technology to students’ advantage

“There’s no turning back the clock on technology, so our task is to turn technology to our students’ advantage,” said President James McCarthy, during introductory remarks for a discussion co-hosted by Suffolk University and WGBH’s Innovation Hub.

McCarthy is committed to advancing the use of new technology while maintaining the University’s tradition of educational excellence. Suffolk’s strategic plan, released in fall 2012, mandates that 20 percent of the University’s educational offerings will be offered in a hybrid format by 2017.

Why hybrid?

Hybrid courses are a blend of online and classroom instruction.

“The model provides new teaching opportunities and new ways to engage with students,” says Kathryn Linder, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Linder is working with faculty to facilitate the transition to teaching hybrid courses.

“There is so much information to share,” she says. “We are offering education to help them redesign classes in this format.”

A student’s perspective

During the spring semester, DeCilio, Class of 2014, took a science elective – The Built World – offered as a hybrid course.

“All of the material needed for the course was offered online,” he says. “The benefit was that I could choose when I would do the readings and assignments. We met face-to-face with the professor once a week, which gave us an opportunity to ask questions and also present back to her what we learned online.”

This hybrid class replaced a course that would have met at least twice weekly in a traditional format.

“The professor recorded lectures with PowerPoints,” says DeCilio. “I could watch them at home or while I studied at the library. If I felt like I missed something, I could replay the lectures.”