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shifted to the blended model as a way to address the is-
sue of dwindling enrollment. Brian Beatty, associate vice
president for academic affairs operations and associate
professor in the instructional technologies program at San
Francisco State University (CA), provided consulting ser-
vices to the seminary. "They said, 'We like the classroom---
we don't want to give that up. But we have to have more
students, and we have to provide more availability for them
schedule-wise,'" he recalls, "I think for those who have a
real need to do both at once, [blended learning] is some-
thing worth seriously considering."
However, some academics worry about the use of blend-
ed learning simply as a business strategy. "The worst thing
institutions can do with blended learning is to try to make
money off it, thinking they can pile more students into a
class or free up time for their faculty," says Dylan Barth, a
member of the English department and a learning technol-
ogy consultant for the Learning Technology Center at the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "Those are not the
reasons to go into the blended business."
He believes that blended programs offer a way for schools
to compete against all of the other "online competition out
there," especially in drawing non-traditional students into
the classroom. "Locally, we have a very good reputation,"
he says. "UWM has great online classes and great online
programs. There are still opportunities for those online
programs to work and to grow. But I think we can really grab
our local students and meet their needs and allow them the
flexibility they need to succeed."
2) Prepare Your Faculty
Identifying the reasons why blended learning makes sense
for a school is a vital first step. But it's just the beginning.
According to Norma Scagnoli, director of eLearning in the
College of Business at the University of Illinois, preparing
faculty is probably the hardest part of implementing a
blended learning model, especially if the instructors have
taught a course for many years.
"They really know their topic and they know when their
students are going to need them more," she explains. "The
disadvantage is that they trust themselves in the classroom
so much that they don't take the preparations as seriously
as when the class is fully online."
The biggest problem? It's hard to break the faculty habit
of filling up class time with lectures. Scagnoli is often asked
by faculty, "If I have my lectures online, what do I do now?"
When they are unprepared, they tend to repeat themselves,
1) Know Why You Want to Blend
It's tempting to believe that schools are gravitating toward
hybrid learning simply because it's more effective than
traditional face-to-face learning, as the ED study suggests.
While schools are obviously motivated by student
performance, they are also being buffeted by strong
demographic, economic, and business forces. And hybrid
classes offer a potential solution to some of their problems.
For starters, blended learning gives schools a way to opti-
mize the use of classroom space. Utilizing a blended model
that shifts some in-class sessions online, schools can free
up classroom space to accommodate more classes and
more students. For example, the University of Central Flor-
ida, which is possibly the biggest institutional advocate for
blended learning in the country, employs a strategy called
"time-shifting" in its courses---holding instruction face-to-
face on a limited schedule, with the rest handled online.
According to Thomas Cavanaugh, assistant vice president
for distributed learning, this approach helps to "maximize
Other institutions hope that hybrid programs can remedy
underlying business challenges. Minot State University
(ND), for example, wants to serve both online and face-to-
face students, but it lacks the money and resources to run
separate programs---it needs the same faculty for both.
A private seminary in Berkeley, CA, on the other hand,
It's a common faculty mistake to
treat the face-to-face and online
components as separate units.
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