5 Blended Learning Models
Blended learning, the practice of integrating online instructional components into traditional teaching methods, first became popular in the late 1990s when web-based content became available in households and classrooms.
This teaching method combines teacher-led instruction with digital technology and allows students some degree of control over the pace, time, and location of their learning.
In addition to keeping technology-hungry students engaged, blended learning also helps teachers address the diverse learning needs of students who come from a variety of backgrounds including English learners and students with learning challenges.
By integrating a blended learning approach, teachers can offer differentiated and individualized instruction for students based on their unique capabilities and learning levels.
There are a variety of effective blended learning models available for teachers to incorporate into their classroom depending on the needs of their students, the make-up of their class, or their comfort level with technology.
Following are a few examples of these models:
1. Station rotation
In this blended learning model, teachers divide their students into groups that rotate through learning activity stations on a timed schedule. At least one of the stations involves online learning, and group members may work either collaboratively or individually on each task.
One benefit of this model is that teachers are able to interact with smaller groups of students throughout the rotation schedule, though a downside is less time-related flexibility for students.
If a student wants to continue work at a station when time is up, they are often required to move on to the next station.
2. Whole group rotation
For smaller classes that may not have the numbers to support the station rotation model, a whole-group rotation strategy is a useful alternative. The class as a whole rotates through stations that include online or digital activities.
Teachers incorporate teacher-led instruction, peer review, and individual activity choices within each rotation for students to experience a variety of instructional approaches as well as a level of autonomy.
However, like the station rotation model, there are usually time constraints as the class in its entirety moves through the schedule.
3. Lab rotation
The lab rotation model is similar to the station rotation model except that the online component occurs in a separate computer lab located on campus but outside the classroom.
4. Flipped classrooms
In a flipped classroom, students are introduced to material via online instruction outside the classroom. The students then spend their time in class reviewing, applying, and practicing material they were introduced to at home.
The challenge to this approach is making sure all students have online access at home as well as parental support and individual motivation to complete the online instruction on their own time.
5. Individual rotation
The individual rotation model allows students to rotate through stations on their own individual schedules. Teachers assign each student a unique “playlist” of activities based on the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning goals.
This means that a student may or may not take part in every activity that is offered.
If a student moves to a station that is full, they have the flexibility to flip the order of the learning activities on their playlist.
This model greatly individualizes the instruction each student receives but also requires the teacher to pay attention to students’ engagement as some children may avoid certain activities because they don’t understand concepts or feel overly-challenged.
To ensure an effective implementation of blended learning, teachers need effective training on the technology being implemented and reliable technology for student use.
Educators need to be committed to using the technology to instruct, not just keep students occupied.
When proven, high quality digital tools are utilized and effective implementation is attained, children can receive helpful supplemental instruction and support in academic concepts which can help to close learning gaps.