Over the last few decades, higher education has had to evolve to meet the needs of an increasingly connected world. Colleges and universities have adopted huge online learning initiatives, increasing educational access and breaking down campus borders in the process. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were also born, creating a new way for students across the globe to collaborate and learn. And although online degree programs have received some resistance, many colleges and universities have openly embraced online degrees as an inevitable future of education as a whole.
In order to offer students the best of both worlds, some schools have chosen to implement blending learning programs as part of their curriculum. Blended learning programs allow you to experience the immediacy of on-campus lectures and discussions in combination with flexible online courses that can be completed at your own pace. For those looking to earn a degree without sacrificing work or other commitments, a blended approach may be the best of both worlds. If you're interested in learning more about blended learning, check out these five East Coast universities that offer this innovative option to students:
- Boston University - Boston University Metropolitan College offers a two-pronged approach to its eLive blended learning programs. First, eLive programs educate students online, using interactive technology, video lectures, and discussion boards that are available 24 hours a day. Second, eLive programs offer several face-to-face classroom sessions throughout the semester, providing an outlet for students who crave the personal interaction that only an on-campus learning experience can provide. Boston University Metropolitan College offers a variety of technology and business-related blended learning programs for working professionals who may be unable to commit to a fully on-campus format. Currently, students can choose to earn a master's degree in Computer Information Systems with a concentration in Database Management and Business Intelligence, IT Project Management, or Security. ELive also offers several graduate certificates in Advanced Information Technology, Database Management and Business Intelligence, Digital Forensics, Information Security, Information Technology, and IT Project Management.
- Brown University - Brown University has positioned itself at the forefront of online learning by creating blended programs that promote the best features of on-campus and online education. Currently, the school offers two blended learning programs for students seeking a graduate degree. The first, an Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership, prepares students to take on leadership roles within the rapidly changing healthcare industry. The program, which is 16 months long, includes four on-campus sessions with the majority of the degree program completed online. Participants will study problems with healthcare access, cost, and delivery while mastering concepts in public health, public policy, health economics, and evidence-based medicine. Brown University also offers an Executive MBA through its blended learning platform. The MBA program, which functions in collaboration with IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, provides business professionals with the opportunity to sharpen their management and leadership skills in an intense, dynamic environment. The IE Brown Executive MBA sets itself apart from the competition by allowing students to spend several intensive weeks in its international location before completing additional instruction in Providence, Rhode Island. The remainder of the program is completed online.
- Pennsylvania State University - Pennsylvania State University is well known for its fully online college known as the Penn State World Campus. However, the school has also gone to great lengths to diversify its educational offerings. In fact, Pennsylvania State currently offers a variety of courses in a hybrid, blended learning format. Blended learning courses are currently offered in nursing, technology, business, liberal arts, history, and many other subjects of study. The school's blended learning courses allow students to experience student-faculty interaction and technology-based learning in an environment that highlights the best elements of each learning method. Students with work or family obligations stand to benefit the most from the added flexibility that blended learning programs have to offer.
- University of Central Florida - The University of Central Florida not only offers a variety of blended courses for its students, but it actually developed a national model for other colleges and universities to access when creating their own blended learning courses and degree programs. The blended learning initiative, which was funded by a grant from the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC), helped the University of Central Florida create a "blended learning toolkit" that will assist other schools in their own efforts. The University of Florida itself also offers dynamic and innovative blended learning courses in a diverse array of subjects including art history, elementary education, economics, nursing, and the humanities.
- University of Maryland - In 2011, the University of Maryland launched its own blended learning initiative in an effort to create learning opportunities that incorporate the best practices of on-campus and online teaching techniques. The school jump-started their blended learning initiative by redesigning 10 already-existing courses to include face-to-face instruction with the flexibility and convenience of online education. Since then, the University of Maryland has added more hybrid courses in an effort to build a rich educational environment that encompasses the best of face-to-face teaching, social media utilization, and technology-driven collaboration. At the University Maryland, students can access a blended learning approach in a variety of subjects including technical writing, genetics, business and finance, geology, and mass communication.
Although the field of online education may continue to experience some growing pains, most educators would argue that it's here to stay. Fortunately, colleges and universities don't have to choose between traditional face-to-face instruction and online learning. Blended or hybrid learning programs can and do offer the best of both worlds by giving students the opportunity to choose a learning approach that meets their needs and helps them meet their educational goals.
Blended Learning Initiative, University of Maryland, http://www.provost.umd.edu/announcements/BlendedLearning2011.cfm/
Blended Learning Toolkit, University of Central Florida, http://blended.online.ucf.edu/
Online and Blended Learning at Brown University, Brown University, http://www.brown.edu/ce/onlinelearning/
Online Learning & Blended Programs, Boston University Metropolitan College, http://www.bu.edu/met/about-met/online-learning-elive-programs/
Web Learning @ Penn State, Pennsylvania State University, https://weblearning.psu.edu/