Blended Learning Models

April 07, 2014
Blended Learning Models

Blended learning has gained popularity because it increases the flexibility and individualization of student learning experiences, while allowing teachers more opportunities to work with students one-on-one.  With an increase in availability of technology to support instruction, it is likely that many of you are already using some form of blended learning in your classroom.  

In our Blended Learning Essentials post we answered the question "What is Blended Learning?"  Now, let's explore the various models.  The Clayton Christensen Institute categorizes blended learning into four common models: Rotation, A La Carte, Flex and Enriched Virtual.  

Rotation Model
Rotation is defined as having students move on a fixed schedule between face-to-face classroom instructions and self-paced online learning. You could have your entire class alternate between teacher directed activities that might include small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, and paper-and-pencil activities, and online instruction as a group.  Another option would be to have students rotate in small-groups or one-by-one, or to assign students to cover lecture materials at home, at their own pace, using digital curriculum. Class time would be used to practice and apply the concepts they learned at home through reviewing the lecture materials. The technical term for the latter example is Flipped Classroom - because the teaching model is literally "flipped" — and it is one of the many ways to implement the Rotation model.

A-La-Carte Model
Those of you with students taking a course online, perhaps an Advanced Placement course or an elective, are likely using the A-La-Carte (formerly self-blend) model. In the A-La-Carte model students attending a traditional school environment will take their class online either at the school or off-site. This model is gaining popularity in high schools because it increases options by giving students the opportunity to take classes beyond what is already offered at their school.  

Flex Model
The Flex model differs from a traditional classroom structure in that while students attend a brick-and-mortar school building, their instruction is delivered primarily through online learning. This model allows for more independent learning; the curriculum is customized to each student's learning needs, and they can move through as quickly or slowly as they need to in order to master the concepts.  You'll notice that when implementing a Flex model, your role may change from offering direct instruction to more of a learning facilitator, providing face-to-face support through small group discussions or one-on-one teaching.  Many schools use the Flex model as an option for students seeking alternatives to the traditional classroom, or for students seeking to recover credits they need to graduate.

Enriched Virtual
Enriched Virtual is defined as students dividing their time between learning remotely and attending a brick-and-mortar school. If your students primarily complete their work online and come into school for support on an as needed basis, then you have an Enriched Virtual blended learning program.  This model differs from the A-La-Carte model because it is a student's whole-school experience rather than a single course enrollment. 

Regardless of what model you use, or how you label it, blended learning provides you with new opportunities to reach every student, and provide them with a personalized learning experience tailored to their needs.  How you decide to blend your instruction will depend on many factors, including teaching style, instructional goals, and the resources you have available.  

Which blended learning model have you been using? For those of you are not using blended learning, please tell us why.  We'd love to hear your stories!


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