Why Blended Learning?

July 11, 2016

Blended learning (also known as hybrid learning) is a combination of online, self-paced learning and face-to-face classroom instruction.

The Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts initiative grew out of a question: We know from prior research that blended learning methods can significantly improve student learning, engagement, and satisfaction in large community colleges and universities. But what is its role in a liberal arts college setting? Is it still effective in a smaller, more intimate and residential environment? Does its role change?

Our research, funded originally by the New Generation Learning Challenges Grant, suggests that blended learning in the liberal arts setting can not only improve student learning, but also can support the meaningful faculty-student interactions and deep, active learning pedagogies that that liberal arts colleges value.

Faculty used blended methods to provide students with low-stakes feedback and to develop the metacognitive skills needed to be successful lifelong learners. Instructor “dashboards” in online courseware in turn provided faculty with a “real-time” snapshot of student progress, enabling them to focus their lectures and free class time for discussions, projects, and other activities that promote deep learning.

Faculty also felt that the blended approach helped them meet the needs of a diverse student population, since online activities can provide different levels of support or challenge, according to individual students' needs. Student learning data helped them identify and reach out to students who need extra support or challenge. Learn more about faculty support for blended learning.

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