Hybrid or blended learning—a combination of on-line learning and face-to-face classes—can help institutions diversify their residential-based, “high touch” models. To be sure, face-to-face education holds benefits that are hard to replicate in online education settings. Nevertheless, institutions do not have the human resources to offer an endless variety of courses and programs, and the smaller the institution, the greater the constraints. Hybrid learning opportunities enable institutions to enrich their curricula by joining forces with other institutions and using online resources, and offers new possibilities for active learning. Over the long term, it also offers opportunities to generate cost-savings from efficiencies in faculty classroom time, in reduced duplication of faculty lines and expertise, and in scheduling facilities.
In 2014, The Teagle Foundation launched “Hybrid Learning and the Residential Liberal Arts Experience” to identify and support models to integrate online education into the residential liberal arts experience in ways that speak to both the quality of student learning and questions of institutional capacity and cost-savings. As of May 2016, 40 institutions from 16 states have participated in this initiative. Two-thirds of the campus partners are residential liberal arts colleges; over one-quarter are from non-metropolitan areas, underscoring how resource-sharing may be especially salient to geographically dispersed institutions.
In spring 2016, when funded projects were at the rough mid-point, grantees came together in a Teagle-sponsored convening to share early wins and address common challenges. Key themes that emerged from the convening discussion are available here. Video clips of keynote talks by MJ Bishop, Director of the William E. Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation at the University System of Maryland, and Daniel Cohen, Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America are available in the Library & Resources section.
Lessons learned from the initiative-wide external evaluation are expected to be released in fall 2017.