What is Blended Learning?

G. Wiesen

Blended learning is, as the name may suggest, a blend of two or more distinct methods of teaching or learning into a single coherent method used in teaching a subject. Though at first glance it may seem that this type of learning is heavily dependent on the teacher to prepare, the students must also put forth a great deal of work to take advantage of this type of learning. This kind of learning is often used to refer to a class in which some of the material is covered or discussed in class and some of the material is learned through electronic learning, or e-learning. Blended learning, however, can also be the use of multiple teaching methodologies or learning styles to make learning as effective as possible.

Many blended learning methods combine traditional classroom education with electronic learning.
Many blended learning methods combine traditional classroom education with electronic learning.

The most common form of blended learning is the use of traditional classroom learning mixed with the use of modern technology to facilitate e-learning. This type of education is becoming more and more prevalent and seeks to utilize what has worked in the past and connect it with new trends and ideas regarding education. In an English classroom that uses blended learning, for example, the students may be learning about Romeo and Juliet. While in the classroom they will discuss the play and perhaps read passages of the play out loud together.

Utilizing blended learning, however, the students will continue to learn outside of the classroom through the use of technology. This would likely include the incorporation of a website for the class and materials on the Internet, such as video clips of film versions of the play or audio and textual criticisms of the play. Blended learning allows the entire learning experience to happen both inside the classroom and outside of the classroom with individual learners. In this way, the teacher of this type of learning typically has to learn to facilitate the learning process of the students more and “teach” a bit less.

Blended learning can also be a combination of different teaching styles utilized in the classroom. This type of learning is a bit more traditional, though the teaching styles used can be quite different from what has been used in the past. Some proponents of this type of learning argue against the use of the term to refer to the other type, also called hybrid courses, as they focus more on blended “teaching” and less on the actual learning process. By using different teaching methods that connect with different learning styles, they argue that this type of blended learning is more effective and true to the name since it targets how people learn and not only how people can teach.

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