Hybrid learning, combining online and face-to-face instruction, would seem to hold the most promise in incorporating technology into higher education. A recent study supports this promise.
Monitoring 605 college students taking the same introductory statistics course at six public universities—including the University at Albany—SUNY, SUNY Institute of Technology—Utica/Rome, the University of Maryland—Baltimore County, Towson University, CUNY—Baruch College, and CUNY—City College—during fall 2011, researchers split the students into two groups. One group completed the course in a traditional format, while the second group completed an online component complemented with an hour of in-class instruction each week.
Students were asked to complete a series of tests before and after the course, and researchers found that “hybrid-format students did perform slightly better than traditional format students” on outcomes including final exam scores and overall course pass rates, according to the report.
The better performance of students in the hybrid-format group was not statistically different and the study did not control for differences in teacher quality. Still, it’s easy to imagine how the powerful combination of a strong teacher with a well-designed online component would deliver superior results with lower costs.
The United States Department of Education reported recently that it’s found some evidence to support the notion that blended learning is more effective than either face to face or online learning by themselves. Further, between online and face to face instruction, online is at least as good and may even have the advantage in terms of improving student achievement and potentially expanding the amount of time (and quality time) students spend learning.
Since blended learning exploded onto the K-12 scene with promises of personalized and student-centered learning, it has proliferated into dozens of different models, with educators continually tweaking and changing those methods to find the perfect balance of face-to-face and online instruction to meet the needs of their students.
Interest in blended education remains high, spurred partly by research offering support for advocates’ claims that blended learning is more effective than either online or face-to-face instruction on its own.
But more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of the evolving blended learning models, including best practices and which models work best for which types of students . . .