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Report: 6 Blended Learning Models Emerge

Even as it "disruptively" transforms American education, blended learning is itself being slowly reshaped into new and distinctive forms.

A report released this week identified six emerging models for blended learning in K-12, ranging from guided online instruction in the classroom to "self-blended" models where students take courses a la carte.

The report, "The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models," detailed blended learning programs that illustrate emerging trends in hybrid online and classroom-based instruction. It was authored by the Innosight Institute, a research firm focused on education and healthcare, and co-produced with the Charter School Growth Fund, a group that invests in charter school management organizations.

Despite the unique nature of each individual program studied, the researchers identified six "distinct clusters" of blended learning models that shared some common characteristics, all of which appear to be gaining adherents.

The group defined blended learning as "any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace."

The six models identified in the report included:

  1. The "face-to-face driver" model, in which a teacher in a traditional classroom instructional setting employs online learning for remediation or supplemental instruction;
  2. The "rotation: model, in which students move back and forth between online and classroom instruction;
  3. "Flex," a model in which the curriculum is delivered primarily through an online platform, with teachers providing onsite support;
  4. The "online lab" approach, wherein an online course is delivered in a physical classroom or computer lab;
  5. "Self-blend," a model in which students choose on their own which courses they take online to supplement their schools' offerings; and
  6. The "online driver" model, where the courses are primarily online and physical facilities are used only for extracurricular activities, required check-ins, or similar functions.

According to the report's authors, these models are helping to "disrupt" traditional education in ways unlike technologies that came earlier.

"Will the rise of online learning into brick-and-mortar schools be different from the appearance of previous education technologies?" the report asked. "Calculators, overhead projectors, electronic whiteboards, and online textbooks all enhanced the classroom as add-ons, but they sustained rather than transformed the conventional structure. Even the aggressive deployment of computers in schools has not transformed classrooms.... In contrast, as countless people have noted, online learning has the potential to be a disruptive force that will transform the factory-like, monolithic structure that has dominated America's schools into a new model that is student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive."

The complete report provides details on 40 individual K-12 blended learning programs from around the country, with notes on the blended learning model employed, technology used in the program, history, funding, and results.

Innosight has also established an online database for compiling data on blended programs.

Further details, the complete report, and a digest report can be accessed free of charge on the Innosight Institute's education portal here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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