The Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Initiative is a collective effort to explore ways blended learning might be used to improve student learning within the context of a liberal arts education and provide higher education faculty and staff with the information and resources they need to adopt approaches that are discovered to be successful.
Blended learning (also known as hybrid learning) is a combination of online, self-paced learning and face-to-face classroom instruction. Prior to this initiative, research had shown that this kind of blended approach could significantly improve student learning, engagement, and satisfaction in large institutional settings; however, its role in a liberal arts college setting was untested.
Our research has found that blended learning can not only improve student learning in this setting as well, but it can also support the meaningful faculty-student interactions and deep, active learning pedagogies that that liberal arts colleges value. The online elements of a blended course can be used to provide students with more opportunities to assess and get feedback on their learning and develop the metacognitive skills needed to be successful lifelong learners. The instructor “dashboards” in online courseware can in turn provide faculty with a “real-time” snapshot of student progress, enabling them to narrow lectures down to the areas where students need additional help, and freeing up remaining class time for discussions, projects, and other activities that promote deep learning.
Blended learning also helps faculty meet the needs of a more diverse student body, since online activities can be customized to a student’s level of understanding and student learning data helps faculty identify and reach out to students who need additional help or extra challenges.
We are pleased to announce that we will be hosting our second annual conference on Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts on May 20-21, 2013, at the lovely Bryn Mawr College campus. As before, the focus of the conference will be on using blended learning to improve student learning outcomes and support the missions and cultures of liberal arts colleges. Come share ideas and information about findings, experiences, and best practices with LAC faculty and staff, and get some hands on experience with materials and technologies. Click here for more information and to register.
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