Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard
Blended learning is a combination of traditional face to face learning and distance learning. In the past and in some remote locations today that meant a combination of classroom learning and some televised learning. Today it means a combination of classroom learning and online learning. Sometimes the terms hybrid learning or multi-media learning are used with the same meaning as blended learning which has become the more common term used today.
So what can a student expect if they encounter a course that is described as a blended learning course? At the moment that description has a huge number of meanings. It may mean one face to face class per week with the rest of the course resembling an online course with readings, discussions, and assignments being done online. However, it might also mean a meeting with the instructor at the beginning and the end of the course or a few days being spent in a classroom with the remainder of the course work being done online. It may also mean an online course with access to a tutor by telephone, and perhaps some face to face group work being completed. There is no one definition for a blended learning course at this time. The ratio of face to face time to online time required in blended learning can vary by any amount. The only way to find out what to expect is by checking the information about the course in its description or by contacting the school or the instructor to find out what the term means in that particular course.
Because of the variety of methods in delivering blended courses, it may be difficult for students to determine whether blended learning is their best choice. There can be some advantages to blended learning. The best method of teaching and learning for each topic may be used, consequently increasing studentsí learning. This also adds much more variety to the course for both students and instructors. Many people find these types of courses more interesting and more motivating than all distance learning or all classroom type courses.
Blended courses can be both an advantage for some students and a disadvantage for others regarding the necessity for some face to face classes. Some students, who are working and therefore unable to attend face to face classes on a regular basis, as in bricks and mortar institutions, find that some blended learning courses allow them to continue working since they only need to meet face to face a small number of times in a semester. Other students however, find that even a small number of face to face classes or meetings will not be possible. This may be the case for students who are at a great distance from the school where the course is offered.
Once again students are required to do good research to discover what will best help them to meet their goals. Blended learning is certainly a worthwhile type of learning to investigate since it does have advantages for some students. Those who are distance learners may find that if they can fit face to face time into their schedules, they will enjoy and learn more from the opportunity to do some of the work in that fashion. Those who are considering enrolling in online schools may find that some blended learning courses will give them a feel for both the face to face and the online delivery of courses. This may help them to make their decision.