Blended learning 101

You may have heard these buzz words: blended learning, flipped classroom, lab rotation. But what exactly do these terms mean? And what do the schools and classrooms that practice them look like? Heather Staker of the Christensen Institute visited Scholastic last week to share how blended learning is changing K-12 education.

Blended learning describes an integrated educational experience of online learning and a brick-and-mortar setting. In blended learning, students have some element of control over time, place, path, and/or pace.

Blended learning can take on many different forms. Most programs fall into one of four categories:

1. Rotation model – Students rotate between learning modalities, at least one of which is always online learning. Examples of a rotation model include:

Station Rotation – Students rotate among classroom-based modalities on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion. For example, students may rotate between online learning, small-group instruction, and group projects.

Lab Rotation – Students rotate to a learning lab for their online learning, then spend time in a classroom for other learning modalities.

Flipped Classroom – Students watch direct instruction or lectures (often recorded by their teacher) at home, then spend class time applying skills with teacher guidance.

Individual Rotation – Students follow a personalized “playlist” that determines their schedule and rotations.

2. Flex model – Online learning is the backbone of student learning, though it may direct students to offline activities. Teachers are available as needed, and their role is to serve as a mentor or guide.

3. A La Carte Model – Students take at least one course online, but attend a traditional school. For example, students may take a language course not offered at their brick-and-mortar school.

4. Enriched Virtual model – A whole-school experience where students divide their time in each course between in-person attendance and online learning.

At Scholastic, we’ve seen the power of blended learning through our programs that use the station rotation model: READ 180, System 44, and MATH 180. For more than a decade, READ 180 teachers have empowered their students to succeed with the combination of teacher-led, small-group instruction and adaptive technology.

Schools across the country are moving toward blended learning models to meet the needs of their students, including the charter network Rocketship. Find other examples of schools using blended learning models on the Christensen Institute’s Blended Learning Universe. Does your school use blended learning? What model? Share your story in the comments below.

Photo: izzymunchted