What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning is combining traditional and online modes of learning. Blended learning is highly context dependent. Hence there is a lot of confusion and a hard conception is difficult to come by. Lack of consensus blended learning definition is even blamed for difficulties in research.

But then a paper Preparing for the Digital University by Siemens, G., Gašević, D., & Dawson, S. (2015) puts this in perspective. (Blended learning is) “considered a combination of traditional f2f [face to face] modes of instruction with online modes of learning, drawing on technology-mediated instruction, where all participants in the learning process are separated by distance some of the time.

This report also established that student achievement was higher in blended learning experiences. Compared to fully online or fully face to face learning experiences. Another most common name used for blended learning is “Personalized learning”.

This report also established that student achievement was higher in blended learning experiences. Compared to fully online or fully face to face learning experiences. Another most common name used for blended learning is “Personalized learning”.

The concepts behind blended learning appeared in the 1960s and remained somewhat ambiguous until 2006. Until Handbook of Blended Learning by Bonk and Graham defined

“blended learning systems” as learning systems that “combine face-to-face instruction with computer-mediated instruction”

While the “war” of defining blended learning rages on… blended learning is truly contextual boundary-less. Educational researchers and think-tanks have suggested distinct blended learning models.

Blended Learning is not so much an innovation as it is a natural by-product of the digital domain creeping into physical spaces.– Teachthought.com

There are 7 types of blended learning models that you will hear.

1. Station Rotation: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station. This model is most common in elementary schools because teachers are already familiar with rotating in “centers” or stations.”

2. Lab Rotation: ‘The Lab Rotation’ model of blended learning, similar to “Station Rotation,’ works by “allow(ing) students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule…in a dedicated computer lab allow(ing) for flexible scheduling arrangements with teachers enable(ing) schools to make use of existing computer labs.”

3. Remote Blended Learning(also referred to as Enriched Virtual): This method focuses on finishing most of the course online meeting with teacher or trainer only intermittently or need basis.

4. Flex Blended Learning: In this format, online learning is the backbone of all the learning. While it may direct students for offline learning at times. However, the important point is that students move on an individually customized, fluid schedule. A teacher provides face to face support on a flexible and adaptive mode which may include small group interaction, group projects to individual tutoring.

5. Flipped Classroom: A flipped classroom is the one where students start on the course at home, learn online before getting into groups or face to face with the teacher. In this way, the traditionally known roles are thus flipped.

6. Individual rotation blended learning: In this format, the students rotate through stations individually. Schedules are either set by the teacher or an algorithm. Unlike the other rotation models, students do not rotate on every station but only on the activities that are on there playlists.

7. A-La-Carte blended learning: An A-La-Carte model combines face-to-face instruction with an elective online course that’s chosen by the learner based on their interest and motivation. This model allows students to take extra online classes to accelerate their learning path.

The new additions

7. Project-based blended learning: This is a model where student leverage both online and in person instructions to collaborate, design, iterate, and publish project-based learning assignments, products or artifacts.

8. Self-directed blended learning: In the self-directed format of blended learning students use a combination of online and in-person learning to guide their own personalized inquiry, Achieve formal learning goals, connect with mentors in person or virtually. In this format, there are no formal courses to complete. And hence it does pose a challenge on teachers to judge the success of students without de-authenticating it.

For students, this format calls for a certain degree of awareness. As they seek out on there own to keep up the learning spark as well as finding the best resources and using them to full advantage. This might work very well for some students while others might need help on the way. Significant autonomy and self-criticism guide the students all the way.

9. Inside-out blended learning: These format finish outside the physical classroom. While students utilize the best of the physical and digital spaces. We got to understand that the nature of online learning is less critical in “outside-in” or “inside-out” classrooms than the focus on opportunities beyond the school walls. (Online components may include self-directed inquiry or formal e-learning courses.) Project-based learning is a good example of this model.

10. Outside-in blended learning: Outside-in blended learning starts in a nonacademic physical or digital environment but finishes in a classroom. This model allows safe space for creativity, and collaboration, to give and receive feedback growing the student work. However,outside in blended classroom is in close supervision of a teacher on a daily basis.

11. Supplemental blended learning: In this format, the students complete most of the work online or in the classroom to supplement another format. The big idea here is to enrich the learning experience by supplementation.

12. Mastery-based blended learning: In this format, students move forward in their learning at their own pace as they master the content rather than traditional time structures. This system is driven by learning objectives which may be completed before time. (standard time is taken for such course). The challenge is to ascertain if the student attained the mastery of the subject and how it is indicated.

While you understand all the models listed here…this is still extremely contextual. By knowing a model by its name we know what we are talking about for the need of reference and communication. This is an expansive field and by no means a complete list of blended models. The attempt here is to fully explain what is blended learning so its properly understood.

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