Learning no longer just takes the form of one teacher standing in a classroom giving a lecture to multiple students. Today, many students, parents and teachers are seeking an alternative to this traditional style of learning, and supplementing it with a more customized experience that meets the diverse needs of individual students and encourages creativity and teamwork.

Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part, at a brick-and- mortar facility and through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace. Essentially, at some point a student will take some instruction at a physical school with face-to face instruction and at other times online.

According to the University of Waterloo, many instructors, parents and students favour blended learning because it can:

  • Increase the amount and quality of faculty-to-student and student-to-student interaction.
  • Help students prepare for class discussions or lab work.
  • Increase opportunities for active and collaborative learning and assessment before, during and after lectures.
  • Allow class time to be spent on active learning activities by shifting background or foundational content to the online environment.
  • Facilitate more varied and engaging media for presenting course material.
  • Address learning bottlenecks via new types of interactive and independent learning activities.
  • Allow students to access course materials when and where they want, at their own pace.
  • Help to create a sense of community in large classes.
While there are many benefits to blended learning, there are a few negatives to this style of education:

  • It relies heavily on technological dependence. Tech resources and tools need to be reliable, easy to use and up-to-date in order for the use of the internet to have a meaningful impact on the learning experience.
  • Flaws in course design can lead to student confusion and isolation if not properly executed.
  • IT literacy can serve as a significant barrier for students attempting to get access to course materials.
  • The flexibility of setting your own pace can result in students falling behind on reading and course materials if not adequately coached and supported.
  • Selecting the appropriate platform for each lecture can be time consuming for teachers who find themselves preparing both in-class and online seminars.
Understanding the different blending learning models will help students and parents prepare for each course. According to Knewton, there are six distinct models:

  1. Face-to-Face Driver – Teachers deliver most of the curriculum. A physical teacher employs online learning in a technology lab or the back of the classroom to supplement.
  2. Rotation – Within a given course, students rotate on a fixed schedule between self-paced online learning and sitting in a classroom with a face-to-face teacher.
  3. Flex – An online platform delivers most of the curriculum. Teachers provide on-site, as-needed, support through in-person tutoring or small group sessions.
  4. Online lab – An online platform delivers the entire course, but in brick-and-mortar locations. Often, students who participate in an online lab program also take traditional courses.
  5. Self-Blend – Students choose to take remote online courses to supplement their school’s traditional curriculum. This model of blended learning is extremely popular among high school students.
  6. Online Driver – An online platform and teacher deliver all the curriculum. Students work remotely, and face-to-face check-ins are either available or mandatory.