Blended Learning Advantage
What is Blended Education?
You may have heard of a blended degree or education program, but been unsure what it was or if it would accommodate your busy lifestyle. With today's technology, we are moving away from the old-fashioned classroom and towards virtual study. Using a combination of on-line learning and occasional class meetings*, you’ll have the opportunity to study anything, anywhere, anytime that it works best for you.
You may be wondering what to expect from a blended class. Blended classes are not all that different from regular classes. You'll have an instructor and classmates, and will interact with them during the semester. You'll have homework and participate in class activities. In some ways, the experience will seem very familiar to you. Still, blended classes are different from traditional classes in some important ways. You won’t have to drive to campus and fight for a parking space because you will be taking advantage of modern technology. Communication with your instructor and other students will take place on-line, with occasional class meetings (ITV). You'll have more responsibility for your own learning and will manage your own schedule. You will need basic computing skills and convenient access to the Internet. The skills that will help you be a successful on-line learner are the same ones you use in any class: preparation, organization and self-discipline. The difference is in how you apply them.
Interaction between students (and the professor) usually takes place via instant messenger, net-based telephony (like SKYPE) and email. Of course, your professor and our helpful departmental staff are all just a phone call away. The occasional ITV sessions are a great opportunity to meet with your professor, have discussions with classmates, and get your questions answered.
Why Blended Education is So Great?
If you've ever fallen asleep during early morning college classes, missed class because you were sick or had to go to work, or been distracted by people in your traditional class, you can imagine why studying from home is so wonderful. On-line learning lets you set your own schedule (no more early classes) and focus directly on the work that you need to get done. Mix that with periodic class sessions where you can meet with your professor, discuss class topics, and network with other students - it's a winning combination.
For students who have trouble learning in old-fashioned classroom environments, on-line education is ideal. Whether a student is shy, has a learning disability or just doesn't click with traditional teaching practices, on-line learning offers a solution for everyone.
You Get to Decide
Because the Systems Management program focuses on student-centered learning, you get to decide how you work best in your classes. Some students like to study at the same time each day for a set amount of time. Others have hectic work schedules and appreciate the flexibility of working their on their class activities when time allows. Some are early-morning people, some are late-night workers, and others use their weekends to do much of their coursework. You'll soon find that this flexibility is invaluable and you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
All of the SM faculty use visual aids and rich multi-media for instruction. If you're the kind of person who needs visual tools to learn, you will enjoy watching video lectures, demonstrations, and streaming presentations as part of your blended education.
How an Blended Class Works
Here's a basic overview of what your first on-line class will be like:
Get Set Up: Your first assignment for blended courses will likely be getting familiar with Blackboard and your class web site. You will be given instructions for how to create a username and profile. Blackboard will allow you to access assignments, the syllabus, suggested readings and chat boards where the professor and students interact.
Meet the Students: Just like you, your classmates are probably new to this. Normally, professors ask the class to introduce themselves on the chat board or via instant messaging. You'll tell everyone who you are and why you're interested in the course. You'll find you have classmates from all over the country, if not the world!
Homework: Remember that this is college and you can't escape homework, even in a blended class. You will be given due dates for assignments, which may include reading books or articles, writing essays, working on projects, or answering questions.
Find Your Voice
If you are shy, you probably never spoke up in class, even if you had great comments and questions. In blended classes, you can talk as much as you want using on-line chat and instant messaging features of the class website. There is far more student interaction in an on-line SM class than in most typical college courses.
Meeting classmates for group activities on campus can often be difficult. You can meet classmates for a discussion or chat about a project virtually anywhere and anytime.
Make Friends While Learning
Thanks to today's innovations in forums, chat boards, email and instant messaging, it is possible for you to interact with people all around the world. If you're taking a blended course, your classmates will be located all over the place too. The SM major is pleased to have students from all over the United States and different countries studying in the program. Blended learning uses a variety technology tools to communicate. You'll participate in discussions on subject matter with your teacher and classmates. In these conversations you may find people you really connect with and share your interests.
Developing a friend or two in a blended course has many benefits. The first is, of course, the friendship. Since you're obviously interested in the same subject (you're studying it, after all), you are likely to have things in common with your fellow students. Friends are also great study buddies. Because you're both studying for the same class you can ask each other questions about material you don't understand or quiz each other before a test. You can even set up large study sessions and include a group of students.
Staying Up to Date
With technology and current events constantly changing, college textbooks get outdated easily. An advantage of Blended Education is that it's constantly on the cutting edge. Teachers do not have to wait for new editions of books to come out since the Internet is our key resource. Your professors will provide you with website links, newspaper clippings and magazine articles to supplement the class. This way, the material you are learning from is always up-to-date. Students are encouraged to research subjects on their own and discussions often form around related news as it is reported.
Many college courses are taught the same way they were in the 1800s -- Not in SM!
You will take advantage of modern educational technology and learn in ways that better suit your personal style.
Schedule flexibility and convenience are important for Adult Learners. SM was designed with you in mind.