In other words, it is learning experience formed out of a combination of face-to-face and technology-mediated lessons and activities. And as both  activities types add to the completion of learning objectives, we can say that blended learning is applied. 

A good example of blended learning approach is the following: learners first have a training session, then, get an assignment to watch a video via the link, submit the response, and then discuss on a forum. 

Blended Learning Definition: Differences and Characteristics

Yet, how blurred the line between traditional and blended learning is, and how not to confuse it with e-learning or hybrid learning?

Let’s delve deeper into the definition of blended learning.  

First, in terms of the blended learning approach, there is always a fusion between face-to-face or in-person activities with online assignments, tasks, or any application of technology. This fact sets it apart from the traditional approach limited to the physical classroom and materials.

How is blended learning different from hybrid, then? Well, even though, they are easy to confuse, the latter will depend on the choice of the learner to be physically or digitally present. Under hybrid learning, teachers will still offer materials, whether students are in the classroom or attend a class remotely.

Further reading: Best Online Classroom Management Tips

What about characteristics?

Before all, blended learning allows using traditional classroom methods and online opportunities for teaching and learning. 

Thus, we can say it brings a lot of diversity and flexibility, concerning activities and scheduling. Moreover, it focuses on learner-centered learning, bringing autonomy and greater engagement into the classroom. Lastly, it leaves a large room for the integration various learning resources and strategies.

In its turn, it leads to the following blended learning benefits:

  • For academies, blended learning results in enhanced flexibility, increased accessibility, greater adoption of personalized learning, and a higher degree of cost-effectiveness.
  • For corporate actors, it allows continuous professional development, certain cost savings, increased employee engagement, and better retention. 

Key Blended Learning Models

As the blended learning approach operates in traditional and e-learning realms, instructors and teachers have developed some models. Each of them is distinguished by the prevalence of certain activities, the role of the environment, or the focus on experiences.

Model#1. Blended face-to-face class. 

Within this model, the traditional classroom sessions and direct interactions prevail in the learning activities. Yet, the teachers and instructors integrate online elements and additional tasks or multimedia to support the needs of certain students.

Model#2. Blended online classroom

The particular blended learning approach contemplates setting a digital space with the majority of classes happening online. At the same time, the occasional session in person is not excluded can can be arranged. They can be brought for collaborative projects, demos, discussions, and role-plays.

Model#3. Flipped classroom 

This blended learning model turns the learning process upside down. What does it mean? Learners study at home and then come to the classroom to apply what they have learned. That way, the learners are more active and are likely to learn how to use the new skills. That is a great model for case studies, scenarios, or experiments.

Model#4. Rotation model

The blended learning program under this method involves the creation of different groups and stations for various activities and lessons. For instance, for one group, it may be a discussion, for another an online demonstration, while for others, it may be a face-to-face instruction.

Model#5. Individual rotation model

The individual rotation model takes the principle of the previous one. Yet, it is designed for individual students, who have their own schedules reflecting the need for a specific station or experience. 

It allows teachers to tailor specific learning experiences and the flow to match the learning needs of certain students. 

Model#6. Flexible-mode courses

Lastly, another common blended learning model derives from hybrid learning, where the students can choose whether they prefer to physically be present or participate in online activities. There, the huge focus is on the flexibility and autonomy of students. 

That way, learning providers can create adaptable learning paths. This option is great for academies, some universities, and many of corporate actors.

Further reading: Collaborative Strategies for Instructional Designers

How to Implement a Blended Learning Approach in Your Academy or Workplace

Step#1. Assess learning objectives and needs

As blended learning is usually more student-oriented, you will need to define the goals and analyze the learning needs clearly. You will need to understand the preferences, learning styles, and technological capabilities of your audience. 

Step#2. Choose an appropriate blended training model

Based on your analysis, you will have to choose the best strategy for the blended learning classroom. Academies are likely to use online blended learning or face-to-face models as they offer flexibility. 

Besides, flexible mode courses are great for boot camps or upskilling. And corporate actors are likely to use flipped classroom and rotation models as they allow greater collaboration. 

Step# 3. Develop content and classroom to support models

Upon determining the right online blended learning model, consider the content you will provide. If you are to organize lectures, think through how they will be addressed and how the information can be processed better. Do you need a video lecture or video instruction? Which one will provide more value in each case?

Step# 4. Select a set of tools to support online methods

To be effective, you need to define the tools and systems you will use to support a model. For instance, you can use an LMS, or apply separate tools for content delivery, collaboration, or assessment.

Further reading: Best Collaborative Tools

Step#5. Design learning paths and develop a blended learning curriculum

When you have a set of necessary tools, it is time to give more organization to your blended learning program. Develop a structured plan or blended learning curriculum. It should outline how learners will progress through the experience, combining online and face-to-face components. 

Step#6. Launch your first learning blended program 

Importantly, start with a small-scale pilot to test the effectiveness of your blended approach to learning. Next, gather feedback from participants and instructors, monitor the results, and find ways to improve the learning experience.