Between teaching in the classroom, grading papers outside of it, and keeping up with the consistent stream of meetings and conferences, it can be hard to make time to keep up with the latest trends and buzzwords in the field of education. Well, that’s where we can help! Here is a quick rundown of what blended learning is and why people are talking about integrating it into their elementary school classrooms.

What is Blended Learning?

Although how educational professionals define blending learning tends to vary, most experts agree that the idea of blending learning involves a combination of both face-to-face learning and technology-based learning to actively engage students. Many blended learning advocates recommend that 10-25 percent of the student day occur in an online environment. 

Blended Learning Models

There are four models of blending learning: the rotation model, the flex model, the A La Carte model (formerly known as the self-blend model), and the enriched virtual model. Now, that can be a lot to take in. Let’s break them down.

1. Rotation model — this model features a fixed schedule - determined by the teacher - that switches between learning modalities (including online). Students learn primarily in class with the addition of homework assignments. 

  • Station Rotation — a form of the rotation model occurring in the classroom(s) that has students rotating through all learning stations, as opposed to just the ones included on custom schedules.
  • Lab Rotation — a rotation model that calls for students to rotate to a computer lab for an online-learning station.
  • Flipped Classroom — a rotation model that has been gaining quite some traction! The flipped classroom calls for primary instruction to be given outside of the classroom, allowing students to study material and lessons at home and teachers to field questions, engage, and prompt classroom discussions to offer support. This allows each child a more individualized approach to learning as they master content outside of the classroom.
  • Individual Rotation — a rotation model that allows for schedules to be individualized to the student, not always including all available learning stations.

2. Flex model — in this model, online learning is the primary basis for a student’s instruction. It engages students in customized schedules, and provides teacher support through face-to-face support such as small group activities, group projects, and individual tutoring. The proportion of time spent on face-to-face support is flexible and can be varied according to the individual classroom.

3. A La Carte model — this model requires a course students take entirely online - driven by an online teacher - to accompany other in-class experiences. This differs from full-time online learning because it is not a whole-school experience. Students take some courses A La Carte and others face-to-face in the classroom.

4. Enriched Virtual model — a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with their teacher of record and then are free to complete their remaining coursework outside of class. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are located remotely. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher. Differing from the Flipped Classroom, students in Enriched Virtual programs seldom meet face-to-face with their teachers every weekday. It differs from a fully online course because face-to-face learning sessions are required.