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Classes

The first thing we think about when we start to design a program is the class format. That's not surprising, since it is the most obvious aspect of education in modern America - the school with its distinct arrangement of classrooms and ways to manage class activity. Just about any kid in this country, if asked to "play school" will immediately focus on recreating in play her version of a teacher and students in such an arrangement.

Fortunately, this most obvious aspect of my studies is going quite well ...

... and it would translate well into any hybrid format program.

It works so well into my life that I'm almost afraid to describe it lest someone think I - and fellow students - are goofing off. Each of my three classes meets once per week. Each meets for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours per class session. So, I spend no more than 10 hours per week sitting in class. Since these hours are arranged clumped together by some beneficent arrangement of the forces of the universe, I only need to be "at school" for about a day and a half. If we move that over to a long weekend, this becomes feasible for an arranged hybrid program. Meet twice per month for a long weekend.

Even better, one of these classes is a seminar course in which there is minimal, stilted discussion - perfect for ITV or other synchronous distance medium. The other two involve a combination of of online posting, online discussion, and face-to-face discussion - in short, they are already hybrid courses.

Any doctoral student can tell you that course work requires far more than these 10 hours per week. Reading and writing loads are heavy and take a good 40 oto 50 hours per week of work, but the level of study assumes a self-regulating learner.

When it comes to creating a hybrid Ph.D. program, it is not the class work that is the barrier. Institutions are already making sufficient use of electronic management programs to off-load much of the former need for campus presence. We need to look for other factors that cause institutions to be reluctant to plan such programs.