Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blended Courses Have High Levels of Success

Do you use a blended approach to teaching IT? Do you incorporate online instruction and face-to-face instruction in the same course? Hands-on labs in addition to reading assignments?

Blended courses have some of the highest levels of student success in postsecondary education, according to the University of Central Florida (UCF). UCF is one of 29 institutions awarded grant money last week from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the Next Generation Learning Challenge, which gives organizations the funding and opportunity to research strategies for improving student success in and completion of postsecondary education.

UCF’s grant money was awarded for them to develop a national model for blended learning, “a practice that combines web-based learning with traditional classroom instruction.” Specifically, UCF is developing a “Blended Learning Toolkit” that can help hundreds of colleges design blended courses, including course content, assessment solutions, and training materials.

UCF has thousands of students enrolled in blended learning courses, and the university reports that students consistently rank the blended courses higher than courses that are completely web-based or that are purely in the classroom with face-to-face instruction. The university also reports that its blended courses have the highest levels of student success and the lowest withdrawals.

According to UCF, blended learning “encourages collaboration” and can “compensate for limited classroom space.” For faculty, blended courses can “infuse new opportunities for engagement into established courses.”

IT instructors, has a blended approach to teaching IT increased students’ engagement in your course? Has LabSim and its variety of teaching methods created new opportunities for learning in your classroom?

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