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Video podcast: How to offer flexible classrooms for adult learners at community colleges

In this December 2023 video podcast, Dr. Tamara Arnott and Kellie Tatge of Alexandria Technical & Community College in Minnesota talk about faculty and student reactions to their “tri-modal” delivery options.


Since 2020, the Community College Growth Engine (CCGE), a design accelerator facilitated by Education Design Lab, has engaged over 50 community colleges and systems across the country to design more than 100 micro-pathways leveraging a human-centered design process.

Through this work, we have identified five key questions most critical to driving long-term organizational change that benefits learners, employer partners, and the institutions themselves.

Those questions, which we explored in our 2023 thought paper, are:

  1. How might we design stackable pathways that credential skills along the way?
  2. How might we make skills + competencies visible?
  3. How might we ensure learning is universally flexible with multi-modal options?
  4. How might we guarantee applied learning opportunities in all programs, for all learners?
  5. How might we ensure all learners have equitable access to adequate support services?

In our December 2023 video podcast, we spotlight one community college in Minnesota that is innovating around question No. 3: How might we ensure learning is universally flexible with multi-modal options?

Alexandria Technical & Community College (ATCC), located in Alexandria, Minnesota, joined the third cohort of CCGE in 2023 and is currently developing an innovative data analyst micro-pathway model.

What also got our attention? ATCC provided what they call “tri-modal” delivery of courses for at least two science classes during the Fall 2023 semester: (1) Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology and (2) People and the Environment.

Tri-modal delivery gives learners the option to choose from three formats throughout the course:

  1. Face-to-face classes
  2. Synchronous (live) sessions on Zoom
  3. Asynchronous online options

These courses are delivered in special “HyFlex” classrooms that are equipped to connect students by video. ATCC explains their various delivery options at this registration link, under “Understanding Course Delivery Models.”

This is the kind of flexibility that Kellie Tatge, communications and English instructor at ATCC, “prayed for” when she was a single mother earning her degrees.

“I see from a student’s point of view how important it is to have a college meet you where you are, and what you can do, and on that day,” Tatge said. “And we know most of our students have jobs – maybe two – and a lot of them have families.”

Adult students aren’t the only learners who can benefit. The flexible options also make sense for high school students who can’t drive yet or are isolated, she said.

In this video podcast, Lab education designer Dr. Jimmy LeDuc talks with Tatge, along with Dr. Tamara Arnott, ATCC’s Dean of Educational Services and Executive Director of Workforce Development, to learn more about the faculty and student reactions to their flexible classrooms.

Here are a few highlights:


What are some advantages to the multi-modal delivery method, from the instructor perspective?

Watch the clip


What are the disadvantages?

Watch the clip


What do learners think? A few comments about their experience with tri-modal delivery…

Watch the clip


What three tips would you offer to other community colleges thinking about offering more flexible delivery?

Watch the clip


Watch the full episode on YouTube:


Listen on:
Apple podcasts

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