Blended Learning Today

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:

  1. Increase Interdisciplinary Collaboration Across Fields of Research in Higher Education, Using an Integrated Research Agenda
  2. Promote Online as an Important Facilitator in Higher Education
  3. Support the Expanding Profession of the “Learning Engineer”
  4. 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?

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