The Definition Of Blended Learning

Blended education. Hybrid learning. Flipping the classroom.

Whatever one chooses to call it, this method of learning–which combines classroom and online education–is going places and making headlines along the way. While education experts continue to debate the efficacy of hybrid learning, its very existence has challenged them to re-evaluate not just technology’s place in (and out of) the classroom, but also how to reach and teach students more effectively.

That alone is one of the major benefits of blended learning (and a common focus of blended learning resources).

The Definition Of Blended Learning

Oxford Dictionary Definition Of Blended Learning: a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.

Defining hybrid or blended education is a trickier task than one might think–opinions vary wildly on the matter. In a report on the merits and potential of blended education, the Sloan Consortium defined hybrid courses as those that “integrate online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner.” Educators probably disagree on what qualifies as ‘pedagogically valuable,’ but the essence is clear: Hybrid education uses online technology to not just supplement, but transform and improve the learning process.

hat does not mean a professor can simply start a chat room or upload lecture videos and say he is leading a hybrid classroom. According to Education Elements, which develops hybrid learning technologies, successful blended learning occurs when technology and teaching inform each other: material becomes dynamic when it reaches students of varying learning styles. In other words, hybrid classrooms on the Internet can reach and engage students in a truly customizable way. In this scenario, online education is a game-changer, not just a supplement for the status quo. But what does this theoretical model actually look like in practice?

The Definition Of Blended Learning: Blended learning is an approach to learning that combines face-to-face and online learning experiences. Ideally, each (both online and off) will complement the other by using its particular strength.

Context: While generally seen as a ‘trend’ in ‘progressive learning,’ Blended Learning can also be viewed as a kind of relic symbolic of the gap between ‘traditional education’ (for the last century or so in brick-and-mortar schools and classrooms) and connected and digital learning. This, of course, implies that digital-only is the future and the ultimate incarnation of learning, which is a short-sighted view. The point, though, is that blended learning is a mix of old and new as much as it is a mix of physical and digital learning.

Types of Blended Learning: The Flipped Classroom, Hybrid Learning You can read more about the most common types of blended learning, if that’s useful.

Contributing Factors: Rise of digital and mobile learning technology

Related Educational Concepts: Project-Based Learning, Growth Mindset, Design Thinking, Robotics

Related Cultural Trends: eLearning and distance learning; the shift from ‘television’ to ‘YouTube’, growth of social media, working from home/remote offices

Blended Learning Tools & Resources: Google Classroom, YouTube, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Moodle, Blackboard

Examples of Blended Learning: Students doing face-to-face group work in a classroom, then going home to analyze that work and turn in a video as an assessment form; taking a course online, then receiving face-to-face tutoring between online lessons

In the course of higher education, blended or hybrid learning is a snazzy, yet relatively new tool and not all professors use it the same way. Trends have emerged, however.

For instance, most professors in blended classrooms use some version of a course management system application to connect with students online. Blackboard and Moodle are perhaps two of the best known CMS applications used today. Through platforms like these, students can access videos of lectures, track assignments and progress, interact with professors and peers, and review other supporting materials, like PowerPoint presentations or scholarly articles.

Even if all professors used the same platform, however, they could each integrate them into their classrooms differently. According to a report on the subject by the Innosight Institute, professors could supplement traditional coursework with online media in the classroom, or simply alternate between online and classroom instruction. Perhaps one of the most recent–or at least most widely covered–hybrid teaching models is what Innosight calls the ‘online driver’ method, or, as it has come to be known, ‘flipping.’