The Fascinating Four Forms of Blended Learning

Katherine Anderson
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 9:00am

What Is Blended Learning?

Blended learning is a rapidly growing instructional model that is redefining the educational landscape. Schools across the country are using blended learning programs to personalize learning. These programs have resulted in greater productivity for teachers and better outcomes for students because students receive the attention, support, and resources they need—and teachers can spend more time differentiating instruction.

As blended learning implementation continues to grow, it’s important to create a shared language with understandable definitions that enables educators to continue to revolutionize the K–12 sector. Knowing the possibilities of blended learning, and all of the options that come with it, is an important step to creating an innovative educational experience for students, teachers, and administrators. 

Before explaining the different types of blended learning, it might be helpful to clarify a definition of blended learning. According to the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, "Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns in part through online learning with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace, at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home, and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience." Blended learning goes beyond technology-rich instruction and one-to-one computers to create a more personalized level of learning and teaching.

The Four Forms of Blended Learning

Using this definition as a guide, there are four main forms of how to implement blended learning in a classroom. These four ways are shown in the chart below:

Source: Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.

The following are the definitions of the forms from this chart:

1. Rotation—Students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion between learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning.

  • Lab Rotation—Students rotate among different locations on the brick-and-mortar campus, one of which is an online lab.
  • Flipped Rotation—Students rotate between face-to-face teacher-guided practice (or projects) on campus during the standard school day and online delivery of content and instruction of the same subject from a remote location (often home) after school. The primary delivery of content and instruction is online.
  • Individual Rotation—An algorithm or a teacher sets individual student schedules and students rotate on an individually customized, fixed schedule among learning modalities.
  • Station Rotation—Students in a given course or subject (e.g., math) rotate on a fixed schedule among classroom-based learning modalities.

2. Flex Learning—Students learn primarily online, either at a school facility or at home. Teachers provide face-to-face support as needed in a flexible environment that moves on an individually customized, fluid schedule, and the teacher-of-record is onsite.

3. À la Carte—Also known as the "self-blend" model, this form is where students take one or more classes entirely online and other classes onsite at a brick-and-mortar school. This allows students to select a preferred type of course modality for various subjects.

4. Enriched Virtual—This form is a whole-school experience where students divide their time between a brick-and-mortar campus and learning remotely using online delivery of content and instruction. These programs often start as full-time online schools and students seldom attend a campus every day.

A video illustrating these different forms of blended learning can be found on Khan Academy.

Which form do you use? Share your stories and thoughts on these four forms on the Blended Learning for K–12 LinkedIn group

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