Blending On-Site and Online Education

Blending On-Site and Online Education

While debates over the merits and deficits over online education continue, an intriguing middle ground is taking shape. A recent Boston Globe article presents the stories of a handful of students whose paths toward their degrees incorporate contemporary and traditional components, combining online and in-person elements for a multi-faceted learning experience that seems likely to become more and more part of the higher ed status quo.

The article’s author, Joan Axelrod-Contrada, notes:

Many working professionals… are turning to flexible, part-time programs to advance, retool, or change careers without having to uproot families or quit jobs. Called “hybrid,” “blended,” or “low-residency,” these programs aim to offer the best of both worlds: the flexibility of Internet learning with the face-to-face interaction of the college campus.

One of Axelrod-Contrada’s working professionals, Steve Mosenson, is a lawyer from upstate New York. Rather than move his home and family in pursuit of a doctoral degree,

…he chose Northeastern University’s doctoral program in law and policy, taking courses online and traveling to Boston one weekend a month and staying in a hotel (Northeastern students get discounted rates of $79 to $129 a night at the Hilton Downtown and Club Quarters Boston).

Courses like these represent the intersection of the past (the traditional educational environment, where students sit in classrooms on physical campuses) and the present (the evolving model, based on attendance in a strictly virtual class). The traditional sphere is going strong, but the future of educational contexts and portals continues to evolve.

Does the idea of dividing your learning experience between the Internet and a bricks-and-mortar institution appeal to you? If so, what would your ratio be—is a weekend per month enough, too much, or right on target?

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