Blended Learning at Small Liberal Arts Colleges

This report was submitted by NITLE to the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) on December 5, 2011. The ACS now makes it available as context for its January 2014 call for proposals for case studies in blended/hybrid learning (deadline for submissions: February 21, 2014). This report was developed by Rebecca Frost Davis, then program officer for the humanities at NITLE. Dr. Davis is currently the director for instructional and emerging technology at St. Edward’s University.

Historically one of the strengths of liberal arts colleges—their small size—has also been one of their weaknesses: They are limited in the number of classes they can offer, and courses with small numbers may not have the critical mass to justify the expense of offering them. Despite these challenges, however, small colleges can expand their course offerings while retaining their “high-touch,” personal approach to education through shared academics, which are academic experiences that transcend the borders of a single campus by connecting students, faculty, and staff in pursuit of common academic goals.  By partnering with other institutions and leveraging technologies such as high definition video conferencing and collaborative software, colleges can connect students to learning experiences beyond their local contexts and faculty to larger educational communities. Furthermore, by strategically pooling resources, small colleges can collectively develop a shared academic program with the depth and breadth needed to meet the needs of today’s students.

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