Blended Learning

“We are, as a species, blended learners.”
- Elliot Masie

Key Assumptions

According to the Learning Technology Center, the blended online learning design is assumed to provide the integration of synchronous and asynchronous-mode, technology-enriched learning activities. The overall design must me rethought in order to fully support student engagement. The implementation of online virtual contact hours can be achieved via synchronous and/or asynchronous modes. In order to optimize technology resources in a convenient and affordable manner, current technologies that are available are encouraged. Regardless of the various definitions, blended learning provides improved learning outcomes due to the face that is supports various pedagogical approaches. It also increases access via space and time independence along with the pertinent reduced costs.

Figure 1. The Varied Nature of Blended Learning Environments from Educause- Chapter 11


Blended learning environments integrate the advantages of the e-learning method with some aspects of traditional methods, such as face-to-face interaction. Blended learning brings traditional physical classes with elements of virtual education together (Finn & Bucceri, 2004). Teaching and learning is transformed into various environments beyond the classroom full of desks and/or chalkboards or whiteboards.

Since there is no one concrete definition, here is some additional components outlined by Brian Kerr. He shared the following elements in a presentation back in 2007:
  • media/tools/technologies (including electronic and non-electronic)
  • time (synchronous or non-synchronous)
  • pedagogical (teaching and learning strategies and activities)
  • curricular (interdisciplinary, experiential, theoretical)
  • institutional (inter and intra articulation agreements)
  • cultural (worldviews, globalization)
  • program delivery (place dependence/independence, individual/group systems)

As Brown (2003) stated, blended learning supports all the benefits of e-learning including cost reductions, time efficiency and location convenience for the learner. When emerging learning theories of Keller, Gagne, Bloom, Merrill, Clark, and Gery, the following five key components of a blended learning environment are created:

1. Live Events: Created for simultaneous (synchronous) learning led by the instructor Synchronous

2. Online Content: Students will be able to complete assignments individually on his or her own time

3. Collaboration: Students will collaborate and communicate via email, threaded discussions and online chat

4. Assessment: Pre-assessments will precede other events to assess prior knowledge and post-assessments will provide the measurement of how much learning was attained

5. Reference Materials: Retainment of enhanced learning will emerge from PDA downloads and PDFs
To read more about the five key ingredients, please visit: external image pdf.png Blended Learning Design.pdf

Disruption of Blended Learning

Even though blended learning has been around for years, it is becoming more prevalent and is viewed as a "disruptive" innovation. Back in 2000, the number of K-12 students who took an online course was 45,000, which rocketed to over 4 million in 2010. Hence, the change in physical school settings and the renewed thinking of disruptive innovation. According to researcher and education analyst, Heather Staker, "Disruptive innovations bring accessibility, affordability, and customization to sectors that before were complicated, expensive, and standardized. Blended learning could bring a much more personalized, student-focused experience to brick-and-mortar classrooms across America." Challenges will follow so it suggested to start with the idea of blended learning eradicating the tradition system as it continues to improve. Staker believes it has the potential to do just that so policy makers must step in and endorse its transformative potential versus a complete overhaul.

In "The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models," Staker and her team of researchers identified models for blended learning based on 40 existing programs and proposed the following six models:
  1. "Face-to-face driver" - The teacher provides online learning for remediation or supplemental instruction. blender.jpg
  2. "Rotation" - Students will experience a mixture of online and classroom instruction.
  3. "Flex" - The curriculum is presented via an online platform with teacher support.
  4. "Online lab" - The physical lab is used to deliver the online course approach.
  5. "Self-blend" - Students are encouraged to select which courses they will take in order to supplement what is offered at their school.
  6. "Online driver" - The primary format is online but physical facilities for various happenings such as extracurricular activities, check-ins, and other functions

Within public education, there are always various opinions on what is and what is not essential in educating our futures but as advances in technology continue to increase many people are seeing how critical it is to incorporate information technology, hence the rise of blended learning. According to the results of a poll conducted in 2008 and shared by Jenny Careless, a vast amount of Americans agree that technology usage in school is growing-"not just for communication and safety/security..., but through a wealth of innovative tools and services that engage students and teachers in the learning process." A portion of the survey's results are as follow: The majority of Americans said that networking technology makes schools more connected to communities and levels the playing field among more and less affluent schools by providing equal access to educational content. Fifty-nine percent agreed that "information technology is a vital tool that can help educate students, and more should be done to incorporate information technology into the learning process."

Michael Spencer, senior vice-president of American Education Corporation shares the following ares of rapid change in his article, "7 Reasons Why Blended Learning Makes Sense":

1. SaaS, or “School as a Service”
2. Apps
3. Edmodo
4. Credit Recovery
5. City Prep Models
6. Content Going Mobile and 1 to 1
7. Deeper Learning
More details can be found in the article.

For convenience, the various parts, which are outlined on YouTube, of the extended interview with Clive Shepherd is listed below. He addresses various questions regarding blended learning.

1 What's the case for blended learning? 00:08

Common objections:

2 What's so new about the idea of blended learning? 00:33
3 Isn't blended learning just a euphemism for e-learning? 01:33
4 Aren't blended solutions just another way of bundling up the same old formal learning approaches? 02:31

When to blend:

5 When is blended learning appropriate? 03:40
6 So, is blended learning always the right option? 05:08


7 There's some disagreement about what the term 'blended learning' actually means. How do you define it? 06:00

Situation analysis:

8 How should someone set about designing a blended solution? 07:29
9 What impact does the learning requirement have on your design decisions? 08:25
10 What audience characteristics have the biggest impact on your design? 10:29
11 What difference do the constraints and opportunities make to your design decisions? 12:32


12 What's your next step once you've analysed the situation? 13:46
13 How do you begin deciding which methods to use? 15:14
14 How do the various social contexts for learning compare? 17:13
15 What options do you have in terms of an overall learning strategy? 20:20
16 How do social contexts and learning strategies interact? 25:49
17 Why start with methods rather than technologies for learning? 26:38


18 What choices do you have when it comes to delivering your strategy? 27:57
19 Why would you want to conduct a learning activity on a face-to-face basis? 29:14
20 What value do offline media have in an online world? 31:25
21 Surely online delivery is fast becoming your default choice? 33.21
22 What about the telephone? What value can that have for learning? 34:46
23 So our last consideration has been media. Why is that? 36:23

The process:

24 How would you summarize the blended learning design process? 37:57
25 What guarantee is there that you'll end up with a solution that is both effective and efficient? 41:00

The two videos below provide more insight and application of blended learning in the workplace and in education.

This video below thoroughly describes how blended learning is favorable in higher education.

Next: Resources - Learning Spaces