Today’s Inside Higher Education features an article on the results of a pilot MIT study from 2013 where students spend much less time in the classroom. Freshman year courses were all online and senior year was eliminated in favor of a series of continuing education courses.
The result is a report with some significant recommendations that are important for institutions revising their pedagogical methods and offerings. The four primary recommendations from the project are:
- Increase Interdisciplinary Collaboration Across Fields of Research in Higher Education, Using an Integrated Research Agenda
- Promote Online as an Important Facilitator in Higher Education
- Support the Expanding Profession of the “Learning Engineer”
- Foster Institutional and Organizational Change in Higher Education to Implement These Reforms
Perhaps the most important paragraph is:
But the report is as much about the shortcomings of online education as it is about its potential. Most importantly, it recommends online education play a supporting role as a “dynamic digital scaffold.” Online education can offer personalized pathways through course content with short lecture videos and well-timed quizzes that help students retain knowledge, the report reads, but it is most effective in a blended setting where students regularly interact with faculty members face-to-face.
What place does blended learning have in a Liberal Education curriculum? How can faculty better integrate innovative tools while still maintaining traditional strengths of university pedagogy?