In 2013, Central Georgia Technical College, Warner Robbins, received a grant to test blended-learning methods in its health-care program over an 11-county area of rural Georgia. That led to BlendFlex, an initiative that provides students the option to switch instructional delivery formats.
“In the past, students had to sign up for face-to-face, hybrid, or online courses—they had to make a choice,” Carol Lee, educational technology director at CGTC, said in an article in eCampus News. “We have a lot of students who would sign up for a face-to-face class, but then lifestyle changes, sickness, or family issues would force them to drop out and we would lose those students.”
Even though CGTC has satellite campuses for rural students, before BlendFlex the only choice for many was to drive to one of the institution’s central campuses or take the course online. Once the telepresence option was added, faculty could teach in their classroom as well as to students who joined from the rural centers via the videoconferencing that is part of the program.
CGTC reports that BlendFlex classes have only a 12% dropout rate, compared to a 21% rate among other classes the institution offers. In addition, evaluations indicated that 99% of students said they liked the ability to switch delivery methods, 93% would recommend a BlendFlex class to other students, and 91% would definitely take another BlendFlex course.
“The biggest challenge is getting teachers to [rethink their role] in the classrooms that are now student-centered,” Lee said. “But that’s what it’s going to take to be a successful college these days.”