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5 Midwest colleges that have embraced blended learning

Blended learning programs allow colleges to offer the best of both online and traditional education by combining virtual instruction with on-campus classroom sessions. As a result, the blended, or hybrid, approach offers students a number of benefits -- such as enhancing their written and verbal communication skills, as well as their technical abilities. In addition, these programs give educators the opportunity to experiment with different pedagogical approaches in their classes, and can be used by colleges and universities as a solution to limited classroom space.

As a result of these benefits, more and more institutions are introducing blended learning options to their degree offerings -- including the following schools in the Midwest:

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee - This school offers a number of hybrid degree programs in different educational disciplines. For example, the School of Continuing Education has a blended child care administration certificate, which is designed for students who want to earn a Wisconsin Professional Credential for Child Care Administrators, and a youth work certificate -- an interdisciplinary program that is offered to students studying social work, exceptional education, and educational policy. This program gives students an understanding of how to work with adolescents in a number of professional settings, including foster care agencies, residential treatment centers, and community programs.

Along with these professional certifications, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee also offers blended undergraduate and graduate degree programs. At the undergraduate level, the School of Education offers a bachelor's degree in community engagement and education, which is designed to prepare students for the challenges of working in private or alternative schools, as well as educational roles outside of school environments. For graduate students, the school offers a master's degree program in computer science.

St. Cloud State University - St. Cloud State University's Center for Continuing Studies offers blended bachelor's and master's degree programs to its students. Undergraduates can earn a bachelor's degree in land surveying and mapping sciences, which prepare them for careers in urban planning, tourism, natural resource management, computer mapping, or land surveying. At the graduate level, the school offers a hybrid master's degree in mathematics education -- for those who want to pursue math teaching careers -- and a master's degree in public safety executive leadership, which is designed for those who want to enter middle-management careers in the public safety field.

University of Illinois at Chicago - In order to leverage its success from existing online courses, the University of Illinois at Chicago implemented a blended learning initiative in 2005, so that students in five degree programs could benefit from the combination of online and face-to-face instruction. During this phase of the initiative, the school took the opportunity to develop blended teaching skills, and determine how well students responded to hybrid classes.

Since its initial inception, the program has grown and extended to dozens of degree programs in a number of disciplines. For example, the College of Applied Health Sciences offers blended learning courses in human physiology and anatomy, health information research, and financial management; the College of Education offers hybrid classes in literacy and teaching students with disabilities; and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers blended courses in Spanish, German, Italian, academic writing, real estate finance, communication technologies, and statistics. In addition, hybrid courses are also available from the School of Public Health, the College of Business Administration, and the Jane Addams College of Social Work.

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota - This school offers a blended master's in education and learning for licensed teachers looking to advance in their careers. Students in this program work together to build a community of educators who benefit from regular online collaborations and face-to-face meetings that take place every weekend. The program teaches students topics such as assessment testing, curriculum development, and leadership in teaching.

Antioch University Midwest - Antioch University's Yellow Springs, Ohio campus boasts several hybrid learning programs designed to meet the needs of busy adult students. Their blended offerings include an Individualized Bachelor of Arts degree completion program, as well as an Individualized Master of Arts with concentrations in creative writing, philosophy, and social sciences. Graduate students can also choose to pursue a master's degree in either conflict analysis and engagement or management and leading change. Finally, the school offers a professional certificate in healthcare consumer advocacy and patient navigation to help train healthcare professionals in the complexities of patient rights. All of Antioch's hybrid programs combine online learning with short on-campus residencies or weekend retreats held at the Yellow Springs campus or venues such as Grailville in Loveland, Ohio.


Sources:
M.S. Program in Computer Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, http://www4.uwm.edu/ceas/cs/academics/degree_programs/ms/, Accessed October 20, 2013
Blended Learning Programs, St. Cloud State University, http://www.stcloudstate.edu/continuingstudies/distance/blended.asp, Accessed October 20, 2013
University of Illinois at Chicago Blended Learning, University of Illinois at Chicago, http://exedweb.cc.uic.edu/blended/index.asp, Accessed October 20, 2013
Blended Learning Program, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota, http://www.smumn.edu/graduate-home/areas-of-study/graduate-school-of-education/med-in-teaching-learning/blended-learning-program, Accessed October 20, 2013
Online & Flexible Learning, Antioch University Midwest, http://midwest.antioch.edu/academics/online-flexible-learning/, Accessed October 20, 2013