Blended Learning: Combining Face-to-Face and Online Education

Disruptive innovations fundamentally transform a sector by replacing expensive, complicated, and inaccessible products or services with much less expensive, simpler and more convenient alternatives. Blended learning is a disruptive innovation in education that can take many forms.

Blended learning refers to any time a student learns, at least in part, at a brick-and-mortar facility and through online delivery with student control over time, place, path, or pace. A student experiencing blended learning takes classes in a traditional school building with a designated instructor and also takes some courses online remotely. The terms “blended” and “hybrid,” tend to be used interchangeably, but in recent times use of blended appears more frequently.

According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, the best teaching often occurs under a blended model of online learning coupled with real face time. An ideal blended course must be an amalgam of online and face-to-face models. Although many factors intervene in successfully building a blended course, defining teaching, and learning philosophy at first lays a solid foundation for the development of a quality course.

Blended Learning Models

Schools as we know them getting outnumbered by blended learning. Blended learning can be grouped into six distinct models that vary by teachers’ roles, physical space, delivery methods, and scheduling.

Primary classification of the blended learning models currently in use are:

1. Face-to-Face Driver: Face-to-face teachers deliver most of the curriculum. A physical teacher employs online learning in a technology lab or the back of the classroom to supplement.

2. Rotation: Within a given course, students rotate on a fixed schedule between self-paced online learning and sitting in a classroom with a face-to-face teacher.

3. Flex: An online platform delivers most of the curriculum. Teachers provide on-site, as-needed support through in-person tutoring or small group sessions.

4. Online Lab: An online platform delivers the entire course, but in a brick-and mortar location. Often, students who participate in an online lab program also take traditional courses.

5. Self-Blend: Students choose to take remote online courses to supplements their school’s traditional curriculum. This model of blended learning is extremely popular among high school students.

6. Online Driver: An online platform and teacher deliver the entire curriculum. Students work remotely, and face-to-face check-ins are either available or mandatory.

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