Image of a mixture of on campus and online learning

 by Amy Knott
, posted On 28 Jun '21
 Outreach and Recruitment Officer at Arden University

A school and college guide to online and blended learning university courses

Higher education looks very different this year than it has done before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Universities have adopted new approaches for their courses; including delivering courses fully online and also through a ‘blended’ learning method. However, these types of courses did already exist pre-COVID, and there are universities that specialise in this type of delivery. So what do they look like?

Online and blended learning courses offer something a bit different to what university can look like by enabling increased study flexibility – vital for many who need to fit university around other commitments.

Here, I will introduce what we mean by online and blended courses.

What are online university courses?

Fully online courses prevent the need for a student to physically travel to and attend lectures at a university campus – all they need is a device and an internet connection to study.

This means that students can study anywhere, at any time, providing unmatched flexibility for their studies. All lecture content, books and journals, discussion forums, student support, careers services and more, can be found via online learning portals which students access as and when they can and need to.

It is key that a student is able to self-motivate and be self-disciplined as an online learner; they must take more responsibility for their learning when studying this way.

What are blended learning university courses?

Blended learning may offer a best of both worlds – students don’t have to be at university all the time but can still get that experience of physically attending lectures.

Reduced contact hours mean that blended students can juggle other responsibilities alongside university study, but they can still do things such as ask a question to their lecturer in person, or grab a coffee with a classmate after their lecture finishes. This learning mode offers more structure which some students prefer.

Who may online and blended learning suit?

Students benefitting from this learning style may include, but are not limited to those who:
- Have caring responsibilities
- Have work commitments
- Travel extensively
- Live in a remote location with no physical university nearby
- Don’t want to move away from home for university
- Have other commitments, such as volunteering
- Have medical needs that prevent them attending a physical university regularly
- Simply prefer working independently.

As higher education continues to adapt in this post-pandemic era, it is important that these courses are promoted to young people so that they are aware of the variety of options available to them, and can choose the pathway that suits them best and enables them to achieve their goals.



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