Blended learning, or hybrid learning, is a formal education program that integrates face-to-face learning with technology-based, digital instruction. Learning takes place in (or in a combination of) online, mobile, or classroom environments. There is usually some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace, in combination with in-person classroom or virtual one-on-one instruction. The degree of interaction, technology use, and student control depends on which of the six blended learning education models is being used.
It’s also a way to create more personalized learning, so teachers can give students what they need, when they need it, particularly in core subjects like math, at the elementary and high school level. It makes learning more productive by giving teachers better tools, more time, and data to inform instruction.
Learn more about what a recent Getting Smart recap article with links to research says about the value of blended learning.
Read what the Christensen Institute says about taking advantage of and designing education around blended learning models.
Learn about why blended learning is important and the models of blended learning
The World Economic Forum ranks the U.S. 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in math and science instruction. These low ratings have been a cause for concern and were to some degree the impetus for the development of the Common Core State Standards and other new state standards, which focus on math and language arts learning, 21st century skills, and science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the math skills that students learn at a young age build a foundation for future learning, so there has been a focus on using technology to build those abilities.
Learn more about early childhood math education.
Learn more about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which formed to make the U.S. more competitive by emphasizing 21st Century skills and blended learning.
As noted above, in an increasingly competitive world, our schools must move into high-performance mode, and leverage technology to advance education— just as we have used it to advance business. This has brought new focus to digital learning methods blended learning, personalized learning, individualized learning, and adaptive learning.
The U.S. Department of Education is a proponent of blended learning, as a way to provide more individualized learning, broaden access for all students in K-12 and higher education, and to reduce costs while improving educational productivity.
Learn more about blended learning in elementary schools.
Learn more about why the U.S. Department of Education endorses blended learning efficiency.
In every model of blended learning, the personalization of content is crucial to the success of the learner and the program. Rather than a one-size-fits-all model, the goal is to achieve a one-size-fits-one solution. That can mean that more than one of the models can be used at different times in the learning experience.
Source: Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation
The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation has recently updated its classification of blended learning models that are currently in use. Rotation models and their variants are most widely used in elementary grades because they rely on instructors/educational guides:
Blended learning combines face-to-face instruction and the smart use of advanced digital learning technologies to deliver multiple benefits:
Read a recent article about blended learning models.
Learn more about choosing digital curricula for blended learning (infographic).
When K–12 educators and administrators consider implementing a blended learning approach in their schools, as many are as they look to align with new standards, they quickly realize there are many decisions to be made. While software and hardware are important, the guiding force must be student learning goals and district objectives. As these goals and objectives are articulated, whether they are Common Core State Standards or others, they must act as the filter for selecting technological learning resources and selecting models.
Learn more about blended learning implementation considerations.
With lower device costs, increasing availability of Internet access, and engaging and sophisticated adaptive learning software systems and tools, it is easier than it has ever been to integrate blended learning into schools. Teachers can become more productive and student accomplishment can be accelerated to more fully prepare our children for college, successful careers, and flourishing lives. Learn what the Fraser Institute has to say and research around the importance of technology in schools.
A key component of successfully delivering blended learning— and the highly personalized learning that results from it— is the ability to leverage data in real time. Intelligent Adaptive Learning uses in-the-moment data to seamlessly integrate instruction with assessment to complement all six models of blended learning.
Blended Learning Resources