What is Blended Learning? - Definition & Models

Instructor: Monica Gragg

Monica has taught college-level courses in Tourism, HR and Adult Education. She has a Master's in Education and is three years into a PhD.

In this lesson we'll learn how blended learning disrupts the traditional classroom to provide more engaging and meaningful learning experiences for K-12 students. We'll also discuss the various types of models and how to integrate a blended environment.

Definition of Blended Learning

Did you know that our present K-12 students were born after the World Wide Web came out in 1991? Imagine how technology has made their childhoods vastly different from yours. Today's 14-year-old was born in 2001, the same year a human received the first artificial heart. In 2007, more babies where born in the U.S. than at any other time in our history. But what will 2007 be remembered for? The first iPhone. Our K-12 students only know a life with technology, so you can see why blended learning is not a trend but the new pedagogy.

Blended learning is a mix of e-learning with classroom instruction. Both environments are partly or fully supervised, depending on the model. It is not a simple matter of using more technology in the classroom or assigning homework that requires using the Internet or other technologies. Blended learning is a more robust teaching model that is adopted by a school or an individual classroom. It is still formal learning, as students are assessed on what they learned both online and face-to-face.

Desirable Qualities of Blended Learning

The most obvious reason why schools and teachers enjoy a blended learning model is that it increases engagement. More than half of children 8-12 years old have a phone or smartphone, which is like having a handheld computer. With blended learning students can use their smartphones for classroom activities and learn online at their own pace.

This may sound like a matter of convenience, but engagement is a powerful technique. In a blended learning environment students are continuously connected to the content. Many learning styles are stimulated through various technologies and digital media, helping the students comprehend, retain, and apply information.


Face-to-Face Driver Model: This is a 'softer' approach to blended learning. The lecture will always be in-person. An individual teacher will add content online to support the curriculum. For example, in-class lectures are supported by supplementary lectures and virtual world activities found online.

Rotation Model: The rotation model is a fixed schedule of in-classroom and online instruction. It alternates between an in-classroom lecture supported by online study and an online lecture with supporting classroom activities. For example, in week 1, students will have face-to-face lectures and activities will be online. In week 2, students will watch online lectures and the classroom will be used for activities.

3 Flex Model: Students learn primarily online, while the classroom is used for tech support.

Online Lab Model: Courses are taught fully online but supervised by an adult in the physical classroom.

Self-Blend Model: Students take extra courses online. This is common for students wanting to take advanced courses for college or at-risk students who need extra coursework to graduate.

Online Driver Model: This is also taught fully online. It is self-paced with teachers checking in on a student and providing support as needed.

Ways to integrate

Implementing a blended learning environment is not something you can do alone. It is an overhaul of the traditional classroom that requires additional technologies, technical support, and the understanding of both students and parents about how it will work. If you are past the initial phase and are ready to blend your classroom, here are few common activities that happen online and in the classroom.

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