Defining Blended Learning
What is commonly meant by ‘blended learning’?
Some useful definitions
The following definitions are for ‘blended learning’, sometimes referred to as ‘hybrid
learning’. We’ll also touch on the ‘flipped classroom’.
Courses that integrate online with traditional face-to-face
class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable
manner; where a substantial proportion of the content is
delivered online, typically using online discussions, and
typically having some face-to-face meetings.
Blending In - The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States (Sloan Consortium, 2007)
Note the emphasis here of ‘pedagogic value’ – any element of a blended learning
strategy needs to add value to the overall learning experience.
The convergence of face-to-face settings, which are
characterised by synchronous and human interaction,
and information and communication technology (ICT)
based settings, which are asynchronous and textbased and where humans operate independently.
Blended learning systems (Graham, 2006)
This definition makes a distinction between f2f and online (ICT) based learning where
live interaction only occurs in f2f settings. Online is considered to be more useful for
independent, and by implication, self-paced learning.
Blended learning combines the effectiveness and
socialization opportunities of the classroom with the
self-directed and active learning opportunities that the
online environment offers.
Blended learning (Dziuban, et al, 2004)
The combination of socialisation and self-direction is an important consideration
in how and what learning a blended approach can best facilitate.
The delivery of instruction in a combination of time in a
supervised physical location away from home and online
delivery whereby the student has some element of
control over time, place, path, or pace of learning.
Ohio state blended learning initiative (Ohio SB 316)
Blended learning can be defined by a split between time in and away from supervised
learning or instruction in a physical location.
The thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online
Perspectives on blended learning in higher education (Vaughan, 2007)
A shorter and more open ended definition. Fusion implies a range of combinations and a
bringing together of f2f and online.
Face to face
A commonly cited combination
Face to face
e-TQM College, Dubai
Most models for blended learning combine f2f learning with online learning,
commonly making distinctions between the types of online learning – e.g.
colllaborative or self-paced.
Knewton citing Profiles of Emerging Models by the Innosight Institute (2011)
In one model, developed by the Innosight Institute, blended learning has been grouped
into six distinct models that vary by teacher role, physical space, delivery methods and
Upside Learning, 2009
This model is a conversion of an instructor-led, 8 month leadership development
programme to a blended learning programme, based on applying web tools to given
elements over time. Things can get complicated!
Center for Teaching and Learning, University of Texas
A model for blended learning that’s gaining some momentum is the ‘flipped classroom’
– where learners listen to pre-recorded video lectures before class and perform other
learning activities in class.
Delivered entirely faceto-face. Any resources
or handouts are printed.
(1 to 29%)
(30 to 79%)
The majority is taught
available online, or
where the syllabus or
of the content is
typically via online
sessions, for practicals
and group work.
A course where most
or all of the content is
Blending In: The Extent and Promise of Blended Education in the United States (Allen, 2007)
A useful way of modelling blended learning is to see it as a continuum - from ‘traditional’
face-to-face delivery all the way to online or ‘flipped’.