As blended learning grows, students demand more face time with professors

Education Dive | September 24, 2018 -

Dive Brief:

  • Many students at the University of Central Florida's College of Business are pushing back on a new blended learning modality that reduces classroom instruction and invests more time in online learning and group projects, Inside Higher Ed reported.
  • The university, which has more than 64,000 students, was among the first to implement blended learning and has been doing so for the past 20 years. Today, it is exploring teaching modalities that allow for the largest number of students to participate in lower-level courses, making it possible to offer smaller, faculty-led sections of upper-level courses.
  • Student concerns include reduced face time with instructors (down to 6.25 hours weekly from up to 30 previously), though administrators note that for some classroom lectures where attendance is optional and the lecture is streamed online, relatively few students attend in person.

Dive Insight:

Research shows that blended learning in higher education can have positive results for students. An action research study from West Chester University, in Pennsylvania, shows that students in the blended learning section of one course achieved a slightly higher average score than the other non-blended sections of the same course, regardless of their size. Students surveyed said they found the blended learning sections to be more engaging and convenient and that they resulted in more interaction with other students in the course.

A recent white paper from the Online Learning Consortium shows evidence that blended learning tends to be more effective than either in-classroom learning or online learning alone. One reasons may be that the implementation process often involves the expertise of instructional designers or educational technologists who work in cooperation with faculty to redesign courses specifically for the new blended environment. 

This kind of work agreement highlights the importance of strategy in creating a blended learning environment. According to one education researcher, important factors in implementing blended learning in any higher education institution include noting the overall purpose of the new learning method, determining what makes the program successful, and identifying key staff who should be involved in creating this new kind of learning environment.