Blended learning can seem like a complicated process, partly because the definition of this contemporary pedagogical method is still not concrete. Technology is continuing to provide new ways for students to connect and engage in educational tasks, making it an increasingly viable method for boosting student achievement. Blended learning is not simply a broad-spectrum term for integrating technology in the classroom; rather it is a term that encompasses several modern classroom models. These models each offer different designs for effectively running classrooms that utilize blended learning methods. Although these models all have some overlapping similarities, each one can be implemented to reach specific educational goals.
This model relies on having students regularly rotate between working online and engaging in a traditional classroom environment. This allows students to work independently at an individual pace while still benefiting from spending half their time in a brick-and-mortar classroom setting. The rotation model is the most common form of blended learning, one that often takes shape by flipping the classroom. Lab and station rotations also utilize this model. Lab rotation involves students switching between working in a computer lab and working in a traditional classroom. Station rotation requires students to go through a number of workspaces in groups, often in different classrooms. Individual rotation is similar in practice; however, it differs in that each student has a personal set of stations at which to work.
This model transforms classrooms into office-like settings in which students get equal exposure to online instruction and face-to-face teaching. This allows students to individualize their work schedule and find a balance between time dedicated to computer learning and working with teachers or groups of colleagues. The flex model benefits students by giving them an opportunity to take control of their own education, allowing teachers to provide support when needed or step back and take the role of a facilitator. In this way, the flex model very much resembles the working world, where students can ambitiously accomplish tasks and receive constructive criticism from teachers and mentors.
A La Carte Model
The a la carte model is named so because students take entire classes or subjects online individually. Therefore, students experience face-to-face learning from a teacher during the school day, but then also learn independently through online courses that can be taken on or off school campus. This model is particularly beneficial for students who go on to have virtual learning experiences at the college level. The a la carte model is not a whole school experience, instead only some courses are offered online while others are brick-and-mortar. Hence, students fit online classes into their overall schedule rather than participate in them as part of the daily curriculum.
Enriched Virtual Model
While with the flex model students are in the classroom every day, the enriched virtual model allows students to spend some days working from home. When students are not in school, they work through online classes at home. Students might attend school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then work from home on Tuesday and Thursday. This model thereby can somewhat mirror the common schedule of classes taken at universities and other higher education facilities. Classroom time is then more focused on helping students with difficulties, similar to how a student might come to discuss an assignment with a professor during his or her office hours. This model puts students almost entirely in charge of their own learning.
All of these models require teachers to help transition students from traditional classes and prepare them for working extensively online.