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What is Blended Learning? How Online Education and Classroom Experiences Work Together

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"What is blended learning?" Many new college students hear the term and wonder how a blended approach to education can impact their own learning experience. The fact is that for many of today's students, one of the most challenging aspects of going back to college is finding the time to get everything done. Blended learning is a model that takes these challenges into account by merging traditional classroom experiences and online classes or a more flexible degree program. As a result, students may find it easier to fit pursuing a degree into their busy schedules. Here's a closer look at how blended learning works to help you explore whether this approach is right for you.

What does blended learning look like?

Traditionally, students go to classrooms, attend lectures, and meet face-to-face with other students and their instructors. On-campus classes have advantages, but they also require students to spend time commuting and to attend lectures and meetings at set times each week. With the growing adoption of online learning, students have the opportunity to learn anytime, anywhere, interacting with instructors and fellow classmates virtually via discussion boards, live chats and other technology-driven methods. In blended programs, students take a portion of their coursework on campus and a portion online, allowing them to take advantage of the benefits of both.

What are the benefits of blended learning?

With a blended program, students have more flexibility to pursue their degree on a schedule that's right for them. Whether you need to study in the evenings after your children go to sleep or on weekends around a demanding job, a blended learning model allows you to design a course of study that meets your needs. As a result, other commitments – from work to family to community obligations – no longer limit your ability to expand your education. Certain subjects can be taken online or in person. When time is at a premium, online courses can help you make even the toughest schedules work.

Who takes blended learning programs?

Blended learning programs may be right for a wide range for students. For example, if you want the familiarity of a classroom experience but want the flexibility to take online classes, this model may be right for you. Blended learning programs are often right for students who work full- or part-time, have families, or have schedules that make it challenging to commit to being in class on a certain day at a certain time each week. For some students, a blended program also can be a good way to test the waters with online courses to find out if attending school 100% online would be a good fit.

Can I switch to an online program?

Choosing a university with a robust online program allows students the opportunity to determine what form of learning is best for them. Students who quickly become comfortable with online classes may decide that they would prefer to attend school fully online vs. blended learning. It can be possible to begin your studies in a blended program and then make the shift to a fully online program as appropriate.

Ready to learn more? Explore blended learning or fully online degree programs at AIU.