The best of both worlds.
There has been a trend in recent years toward more online education, with programs adding online courses or even going online-only.
There are good reasons for this trend; online education offers great flexibility for students to avoid commuting to campus, and to mange their time more flexibly. At the same time, this shift toward online programs requires programs like ours to consider what experiences are most central to our field, and whether we can effectively transfer those experiences to an online format.
This is a particular challenge in a Humanities field like English, where authentic human interaction is a central element of the discipline. Engaged class discussion, out-of-class student networking, and effective communication with faculty are all necessary elements of a good graduate program in English or English Education, and the mediation of electronic communication complicates these interactions.
With the valid claims of students seeking online education and the continuing need for face to face interaction in mind, we seek a compromise. We have three required courses, ENG 5300: Theories and Methods of Literary Reserach, EED 5510: The Teaching of Writing, and EED 5520: The Teaching of Literature, which we will continue to teach face to face, in order to guarantee an opportunity for graduate students to develop through human interaction, and to build a network.
Other classes in the program are offered in either a hybrid or online format whenever possible. We offered our first fully online course in Summer 2014, and a variety of hybrid and online courses have followed. Because of the centrality of class discussions to many courses, hybrid courses will probably predominate in the near future, but our expectation is that the program (aside from those three courses) will be more online as time goes by. Certainly the technology for approximating human interaction in an online format continues to improve.
We hope over time to combine the authentic human interaction of face to face classes with the convenience of online education, and to achieve the best of both worlds.