January 5, 2011

The Benefits of Blended Learning Explained

By: in Distance Learning Administration

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Blended learning — a strategy that combines online and classroom learning activities and resources to reduce in-class seat time for students in a face-to-face environment — can be a tremendous boon for a university. It can help the institution enhance under-enrolled programs, complete faculty teaching loads, and improve cost effectiveness. However, convincing the institution’s constituents that a blended course or program is a good idea may take some work.

Muriel Oaks is dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education at Washington State University. During the recent seminar titled New Ideas for Selling Blended Learning to Your Faculty, she offered an in-depth discussion of ways to convince administrators, faculty, and students of the value of blended learning, including:

When talking to administrators, point out that blended learning…

  • impacts the entire institution.
  • offers a learner-centered pedagogy.
  • may integrate with the strategic plan.
  • improves classroom utilization.
  • can help match delivery to academic need.
  • can help fill under-enrolled courses and programs.

When talking to faculty, point out that blended learning….

  • gives them access to new resources.
  • introduces them to online learning.
  • is an opportunity for faculty development and lets them experiment with new pedagogies and techniques.
  • helps meet student expectations and build student skills.
  • allows for more flexible scheduling.
  • retains the face-to-face aspect faculty may cherish.

When talking to students, point out blended learning…

  • meets their expectations for utilizing technology.
  • develops independent learning skills.
  • offers increased flexibility and convenience.
  • provides better access to those with job, family, or distance barriers.
  • helps reduce educational costs.

Offering blended learning requires more than just setting up an LMS and telling the faculty to integrate it into their curriculum. Institutions must understand the variety of delivery modes available, investigate their potential audience, learn about the competition, and provide adequate support for both students and faculty.

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