In today's technology-driven environment, academic institutions have numerous options for serving students who don't fit the traditional mold. For years, traditional two- and four-year colleges have been offering full-time online courses in an effort to accommodate these nontraditional students, but career colleges have done so less frequently, as those programs require more hands-on learning. Now another method is quickly catching on across career college campuses - the blended learning model. This practice combines in-person education with Internet resources or online courses. If you're considering implementing blended learning in the classroom, these are a few of the benefits for both your school and your students1.
For students, blended courses offer the social and collaborative interactions that digital courses lack with the convenience and flexibility of online learning. The blended learning model enables students to:
- Increase classroom engagement: Online courses promote flexible learning. But, too much flexibility may lend itself to disengagement, especially when students are juggling work and families with coursework. Classroom collaboration promotes accountability for online learners through homework, teamwork and class discussion.
- Set their own pace: The blended learning model is student-centric and highly personalized for each learner. In this environment students take courses at their own pace, ensuring mastery in a subject before continuing on to another.
- Maintain a flexible schedule: The Wall Street Journal reports that nontraditional students make up 71 percent of the college student population.2 Many of these students are juggling outside responsibilities such as work, families and children. The flexibility of blended learning enables a less stressful learning environment, thereby encouraging retention and course completion.
Career College Benefits
Blended learning models provide much-needed assistance for overloaded instructors. Academic institutions, faculty and staff can:
- Appeal to a broader range of students: The flexibility offered by career colleges already appeals to nontraditional learners, who are often strained with external responsibilities. Blended courses boost this appeal and encourage greater enrollment among all types of students. Since the blended learning model is less restricted and requires less in-class time, educators can welcome more students and still tend to each learner individually during off-class hours.
- Monitor student progress more closely: Because the blended learning model provides students with an opportunity to learn independently from their instructor, educators can focus their time out of the classroom on tracking individual student progress. Instructors can better dedicate their time to assisting those in need of individualized attention. Instructors may also choose to assign students who are excelling in a subject to mentor and tutor those falling behind, thus, encouraging classroom teamwork.
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