What is blended learning really about?

If you’re reading this, you are probably already interested in studying for a higher education qualification and may have researched the options available to you. The great news is, there are now more options than ever to make your aspirations a reality!

Sometimes we find ourselves too busy to attend a traditional university – we work full time, look after a family or simply have a rich social life. For many of us distance learning could be the answer; but for those who want the structure of a traditional university with the flexibility of online learning there is a third option to consider – blended learning.

Blended learning can be briefly summarised in one sentence: online learning + classroom.

You would normally be attending a campus once or twice a week for that personal tuition time and peer interaction, then use the virtual classroom to progress your learning and complete your assignment wherever and whenever it suits you. Great for that on-campus experience without the full-time commitment!

Blended versus traditional higher education

Blended learning is a method that has proven to be not only effective in terms of learning outcomes, but also ranks high on ratings of satisfaction with students and instructors (Dzuiban, Hartman & Moskal, 2004). So how does it compare to traditional University learning?

Traditional learning
Blended learning
    • On-campus, classroom.
    • Many universities offer as little as 10 hours of lecture times a week – typically spread across 5 days. This, alongside long commutes, means that many students are unable to work alongside their studies and gain the all-important work experience.
    • 2 or 3 days of classroom delivery a week for personal tuition time and peer interaction.
    • Complete your assignments and watch webinars and presentations online.
    • Opportunity to engage with different types of content types of content like video, audio and visually enhanced presentations.
Who is it for?
    • Young people who want to get the traditional ‘university experience’.
    • Those who are willing and able to postpone or pause their career in order to focus on academic study for three years.
    • People who are very comfortable working with reading lists, note taking, text and lecture-delivered content and traditional learning approaches.
    • People with childcare or other caring commitments that they need to work around.
    • Those focused on beginning or continuing their career who would prefer not to take time out of the working world in order to study.
    • Those who need or want to stay close to home – the compressed timetable and online materials mean you don’t have to live close to campus.
    • Those who are time constrained and prefer to absorb lecture content in their own time – video, podcast and webinar course materials mean you can pause and replay materials whenever you need to.
    • Tuition fees (£9000 + a year)
    • Accommodation cost (average weekly rent stands at £146.73, according to NUS & UniPol Survey).
    • Eligible for Student Finance.
    • Tuition fees £6,000 per year (current Arden University annual fee for undergraduate degree by blended learning)
    • Potential to earn while you learn and compressed timetabling means you are only on campus 2 days per week.
    • Eligible for Student Finance.
Classroom environment
    • A ‘sit and listen’ approach – time spent passively receiving lectures and presentations.
    • A ‘learn and do’ approach – lectures and presentations can be viewed online via webinar and video at a time that suits you. Your classroom time then becomes more efficient as you can apply the newly found knowledge in discussions, debates and project working.
Quality of content
    • Content provided through books and printouts.
    • Notes need to be take in real-time – no time to stop and reflect.
    • Access to pre-recorded lectures and webinars – pause to take notes when needed.
    • Rerun videos and take online tests for immediate feedback.
    • Access to material that’s always up-to-date – tutors can easily tweak the content to reflect any changes in the industry.
    • The full ‘university experience’, freshers' week, campus-bar and social activities, new friends and social groups.
    • Best of both worlds – Full time three year degree based on compressed timetable supported by flexible online study support.
    • Fully compatible with continued working for that all-important work experience and the ability to continue earning while you learn.
    • High cost means high debt
    • Spread timetabling means you have to be on campus every day
    • Traditional teaching model could be more passive and theoretical
    • Difficult to manage around work and caring commitments
    • Generally narrower course availability and likely to be more business and professionally orientated subjects – so less likely to be suited to those wishing to study classic humanities and similar.

There is a wide range of qualifications offered via blended learning, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Blended learning gives you the opportunity to learn as you earn and to come out with a degree and relevant experience to progress your career. So, you’re well equipped to get that dream job when the time comes!

Find out about blended study in London

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