[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Students who live in remote areas and have work and family responsibilities frequently face considerable challenges completing graduate education. Accredited programs in their professional field may be several hundred miles away, on campuses where traditional face-to-face programs are the primary - if not the only - options available. This means considerable windshield (driving) and seat (classroom) time that their situations make prohibitive. At the same time, new technological developments and continued research and experience have made quality online learning feasible in many fields. Nevertheless, there is still a strong bias to have adequate face-to-face elements in the preparation of professionals for whom face-to-face contact with clients will be the norm. This combination of student need, technological feasibility, and a professional bias toward face-to-face instruction provides the perfect environment for a "blended" program that combines the best features of face-to-face, videoconferencing, and online instruction. The Michigan State University Blended Statewide Clinical Master of Social Work (MSW) Program was developed to respond to the serious access issues facing students in areas of the state where accredited master's programs are either too far away or do not provide flexibility in course load and scheduling. In this article, the program's underlying assumptions are explained and the primary components of the Blended Program model are described in detail. It should be noted that this is not just a theoretical model – it has, in fact, been implemented, with the first cohort of students in the third year of the three-year MSW program. Results to date are presented.
Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology. 01/2009;