The Hybrid Hellscape


Stuart Lombard

Starting the new school year, I thought that I was right to expect to know where my classes were and when – Old Main at 10:10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example. Not this year. The flexibility that COVID-19 has necessitated has meant that we may not know, from the beginning, how we will be attending classes. It is confusing and stress-inducing, and we are all affected.
Due to the pandemic, I knew that this school year was going to be different. We would be wearing masks and social distancing. The chaos of the spring 2020 semester was bad enough, but at least I knew that all of my classes were online-only.
This semester is different. Now, we have a mix of online-only and hybrid classes, and it all feels overwhelming. I am of the opinion that being physically in the classroom is the best way to learn. Being remote in the spring was quite difficult.
Trying to bring back as much normalcy as possible, the college has tried to have as few fully-online courses as possible. Data provided by the Registrar’s office indicates that less than ten percent of course sections are being taught remotely, or online-only. The remainder are hybrid courses.
In our context, ‘hybrid’ very loosely means a mixture of in-person and online instruction. But the ratio and format of the mix varies from class to class, section to section. It has created a lot of uncertainty, confusion and added stress.
Each of my courses are being taught in vastly different ways. The most straight-forward course is the one that is online-only. The others follow more complex schedules: in-person on this day, remote the next and in-person during the second half of the class only.
Maybe it’s just me. I thrive best when following a schedule. I like to know when things are, where they are and that they will be the same for a good long while. Having classes with changing schedules and varied formats is particularly difficult.
If you are like me, then last week was likely the week from hell. And you are probably looking for any way to impose order upon your life in the coming weeks. Here are a few humble tips for coping (healthily) with the chaos.

  1. Try printing out your syllabi and taping them on your wall. When you are at your desk, you can look up and see what is coming next.


  1. A digital calendar is your friend.


  1. Sometimes, pen and paper is the best way to stay organised. I keep a tiny black Moleskine notebook for keeping track of my day to day life.

Last week was confusing and stressful, this week probably will be too, but if you are to keep one thing from this piece, keep the fact that we are all in the same Viking long boat, trying to navigate the choppy waters. #AugustanaStrong
Graphic by Alyssa Duckett.