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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Blended learning format mixes traditional, online learning

"During his Tuesday afternoon Math 134 class, Grand Canyon University professor Dr. Filippo Posta lectures on algebra and calculus to more than 80 freshmen and sophomores. Many of the concepts he covers are refreshers from high school classes." according to Cooper Nelson, News and Events of Grand Canyon University.

Photo: GCU professor Filippo Posta lectures to students during the Tuesday “ground” day of his spring Math 134 class. Posta led the first blended learning class at GCU last summer. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

On Thursday, a fraction of the students attend class, trickling in late and staying for a half-hour at most. Many spend time doing homework on laptops. But Posta doesn’t seem to mind. He floats around the room, answering questions.

Posta’s class is among several traditional undergraduate classes that are part of a new blended learning format that GCU, as it explores ways to combine elements of traditional and online courses, piloted this year. In the format, students meet for ground classes once or twice a week and complete homework assignments online, using the extra class day for tutoring or study time. Other blended courses include Psychology 102, Physics 111, Biology 220 and Biology 483.

Through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the blended learning concept was first introduced over the summer in Posta’s Math 110 course as a way to reinvent 100-level classes to be more engaging and valuable as core degree courses. GCU is a leader in online education with more than 55,000 students and 200 online full-time faculty members and also has a burgeoning traditional enrollment of nearly 11,000.

Provost Dr. Hank Radda said the blended program may not apply to every class. But the University hopes to use the concept to improve the quality of general education courses and provide students a greater depth of online learning.

“We’re always trying to do our best to improve learning and learning outcomes for our students,” Radda said. “We have experienced teachers who have a willingness to explore blended learning and a desire to improve the pedagogical experience and make learning better for students. GCU is the perfect playground because it is essentially already a blended university, being a pioneer with online and ground.”

Source: GCU Today - News and Events of Grand Canyon University.

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