Characteristics of Blended Learners

What Do We Know About Students Who Take Blended Courses?

According to the Sloan Consortium [14]

  1. Student on the computer They are older, continuing education, adult learners who want to learn at their own pace outside of the classroom.
  2. They are students with families who have to balance their education with their responsibilities to spouses and/or children.
  3. They are students with learning or physical disabilities who find greater access with online learning.
  4. They are students with greater concerns for earnings and who are furthering their education in hopes of immediate payback.
  5. They are students who are employed and have limited time to study and need the flexibility of online learning.
  6. They are students who have not had success in face-to-face learning environments.

To support this, of the almost 4000 respondents to the 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement [15] who identified themselves as distance learners:

  1. Seventy percent of distance education students were caring for dependents.
  2. Half of distance education students worked at jobs more than 30 hours per week.
  3. Half of distance education students were enrolled part-time compared with only 10% of other students.
  4. Distance education students were older on average. The median age of first-year distance learners was 25 and of seniors was 32. Their counterparts were 18 and 22 years, respectively.
  5. Sixty-three percent of distance education students were first generation compared with 42% of other students.
  6. Distance education students generally chose this format for reasons of convenience and being able to work at their own pace.

This is in contrast to the more homogenous groups of students that you will find in a campus classroom. While they most likely have a job, it is typically temporary, part-time and rarely related to their future goals. Their education is their full-time employment. The majority of these students are similar in age and unmarried without children. This is not to say that online courses couldn't be made up entirely of campus students. Campus students are just as likely to take an online course because of the flexibility it allows in the student's schedule.

Student Perspective

Why do students take online courses? Students enrolled in online programs often mention quality, flexibility, and interactivity as the major benefits or positive aspects of online learning. We conclude with some comments from University of Wisconsin Extension – Learning Innovations (2002-05). [UW – Platteville and BSN-LINC online student interviews]. Unpublished raw data.[16]