What Is Blended Learning?

In a perfect world, all students would experience the many benefits that come from utilizing a blended learning model of instruction. Having face-to-face time with an instructor and one’s peers is just as important for the learning process as exploring new information at one’s own pace.

To receive a well-rounded education, students need social interaction, a teacher to facilitate the learning process, and a dynamic curriculum that emphasizes how to think as opposed to rote memorization of facts.

Blended learning has been around since the late 1990s.  So what exactly is blended learning?

Blended learning is:

  • Having students learn both in-person and online (on-demand)
  • Giving students some control over their on-demand online learning programs
  • Combining in-person or virtual (teacher led) and on-demand instruction for a blended, or integrated, learning experience

Blended learning is combining all the good things about in-person, instructor-led teaching with all the good things about learning through an on-demand curriculum.

Many school districts have gotten the concept of blended learning wrong while claiming to use it regularly in their own classrooms.

Blended learning is not:

  • Making one teacher teach both in-person and virtual students simultaneously.
  • Having all students completing online instruction at the same time and at the same pace.
  • Requiring teachers to post all lesson plans, assignments, and quizzes online.
  • Forcing students to work in isolation.

While some students may excel within the in-person or virtual, instructor-led classroom, many students find the most success in a true blended learning model. Those school districts that effectively implement blended learning see results

Developing differentiated instruction for each student means considering all of their diverse talents, abilities, knowledge, and challenges.   A blended learning curriculum requires developing activities for all students in both learning models.  Having to create both types of curriculum can be a very daunting task for an already over-loaded teacher.

School districts really need designated staff to help manage the on-demand portion of blended learning.  This staff normally works closely with classroom teachers. 

Blended learning models can be very successful for school districts and students when implemented correctly.  Understanding the unique characteristics of blended learning allows teachers or curriculum designers to build a plan to effectively offer a more well-rounded educational program for students.