In today’s changing environment and lifestyle, higher education students want to reach their educational goals in a way that fits their own lifestyles. Whether their courses are blended or fully online, they are eager to participate in engaging, rigorous online learning programs.
Blended courses (also known as hybrid or mixed-mode courses) are classes where a portion of the traditional face-to-face instruction is replaced by web-based online learning to increase student achievement and improve results.
Blended courses have proven to be among the most popular choices for students at institutions where they are offered. At first glance, this popularity seems intuitive because blended courses allow students and faculty to take advantage of much of the flexibility and convenience of an online course while retaining the benefits of the face-to-face classroom experience.
Although fully online learning has become well established in higher education, many institutions appear to be struggling with conceptualizing and implementing blended learning. Yet, where blended courses have succeeded, they have most often done so when strategically aligned with an institution’s mission and goals. The development and delivery of blended courses can be used to address a variety of institutional, faculty, and student needs.
- For universities, blended courses can be part of a strategy to compensate for limited classroom space, as well as a way to think differently about encouraging faculty collaboration.
- For faculty, blended courses can be a method to infuse new engagement opportunities into established courses or, for some, provide a transitional opportunity between fully face-to-face and fully online instruction.
- For students, blended courses offer the conveniences of online learning combined with the social and instructional interactions that may not lend themselves to online delivery.
If an institution’s blended learning strategy can be designed to address the needs and dynamics of all three constituencies (institution, faculty, and student) simultaneously, then blended learning can become a powerful force for institutional transformation.