The future of learning is blended. The U.S. Department of Education agrees, citing 11 studies that suggest students in online or blended learning environments outperform those in traditional face-to-face classrooms.1 The blended learning model - a hybrid of face-to-face instruction with online learning - is better-suited to meet the needs of today's career college students. Let's look at five ways blended learning can help your career college improve student performance.

Optimizes Time Management & Provides Flexibility

Blended learning helps both teachers and students manage their time better. By providing students with tools to study and review on their own time, the blended learning model permits teachers to focus class time on activities that truly require interaction, such as demonstrating steps or answering questions. This makes the best use of class time, and it also lets students adjust their individual study time to fit the needs of their own schedule. For instance, students who are trying to juggle school with work and family obligations can catch up on missed classes by watching recorded lectures. Many nontraditional students need the flexibility to adjust their study time to their own schedules, and blended learning gives this flexibility.

Makes Learning Easier

Blended learning makes it easier for students to learn. In a survey of 20,000 adult students conducted by the education tech company Echo360, one-third of respondents said blended learning was their favorite learning format. They reported that having digital access to instructional content such as videos, lectures and documents helped them with review, test preparation, learning independently at their own pace, understanding material and catching up on missed classes. Forty-four percent ranked blended learning lecture capture tools as their most important educational resource, and 84 percent wanted more blended learning and lecture capture tools in their courses.

Identifies Struggling Students

Blended learning makes it easier for teachers to identify struggling students. Blended learning software typically uses short quizzes to provides immediate feedback to teachers about how well students are picking up material. Instructors can immediately identify struggling students and intervene before testing takes place, instead of waiting until after a student has failed.

Enables Adaptation of Teaching Styles to Course Content

Blended learning enables educators to fit their teaching style to the content being presented. When determining the best way to present material, ask yourself two questions: Does the material require students to interact with the instructor in real-time (synchronous), or can students pick up the material on their own schedule (asynchronous)? Second, are any visual or audio aids required?

As a general rule, when the purpose of a presentation is to impart information, students can learn and review material better on their own time by using reference media such as textbooks, PDF documents, website references, slideshow presentations and videos. However, when the purpose is to teach students how to perform a task, students learn better when they can observe and ask questions, using media such as e-learning tools, instructor-led training, action-planning worksheets and on-the-job training. Blended learning gives career college instructors the flexibility to select from this full range of teaching tools and pick the ones best suited to teaching their subjects.

Incorporates Experiential Learning

Another advantage blended learning provides career college instructors is the ability to incorporate experiential learning into coursework. Teaching entirely online makes it difficult to impart the type of hands-on knowledge required for classes such as nursing, culinary arts and cosmetology. Blended learning removes this barrier by giving instructors the ability to combine online instruction with hands-on, in-person teaching. It's the best of both worlds.

This experiential learning also provides students with invaluable experience, increasing their odds of landing a job. Nearly nine out of 10 employers are more likely to hire candidates with an applied learning experience on their resume, according to a Hart Research Associates survey.2

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Resources: Photo Credit. (1) Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-
Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies (2) Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success