Blended Learning

Online learning has the potential to transform America's education system by serving as the backbone of a system that offers more personalized learning approaches
for all students
Michael Horn
What is it?

Blended learning is where students spend part of their time in face-to-face learning in a brick-and-mortar institution and part of their time learning on-line. Students have some control over the place, time, path, and/or pace of their learning.

Why is it important to have in the classroom?

Blended learning is an enabler of personalized learning. The combination of excellent teachers with on-line learning not only allows students to move at a pace that keeps them constantly at the edge of their learning, but allows them to move ahead according to their own natural pace for the given material. This mitigates the issues of the industrial classroom where some students are bored, some lost as instruction is delivered to a hypothetical typical student.

How does it support intrinsic motivation and ownership?

Blended learning provides students with varying degrees of autonomy over their learning and, in the best cases, is combined with learning strategies such as project based learning that allow students to do relevant, meaningful work. Students get frequent feedback on their performance allowing them to experience the success of gaining mastery in a subject. Together, these provide the key ingredients for intrinsic motivation and an environment that supports student ownership.

What does it look like in practice?

In practice there are several models, including the rotational and flex models. The rotation model simply means that students are spending some time on a computer and some time with the teacher whether this be at stations, sharing time with computer labs, or taking advantage of flipped classrooms. These models supplement traditional teaching with on-line learning.

In the more transformative models such as the flex model, the on-line learning becomes the backbone of the learning environment allowing for far more personalization and the teacher’s role shifts to more of a guide than in traditional classrooms.