Blended learning combines two modes of learning: face-to-face and online. The two modes may occur within a particular class session, within a course, or across an entire degree program. The amount of time spent online versus face-to-face and the types of activities taking place in the different environments may vary, but the learning is integrated and complementary.
According to Joel Hartman, Charles Dziuban, and Patsy Moskal of the University of Central Florida, “Ideally, blended learning is a pedagogically driven combination of learning resources and approaches, not a rigid percentage assignment to various instructional settings.” Pedagogical decisions about integrating online and face-to-face learning focus on the following learning elements: content, reflection, social/emotional, collaboration and student-generated content, dialectic/questioning, and synthesis/evaluation.
One of the greatest strengths of the blended learning model is its pedagogical flexibility, which enables blended programs to meet individual students’ needs with potentially greater success than programs conducted entirely in a face-to-face mode on campus. In the request for proposals for the Wave I grant competition, NGLC stated, “Given the need to raise the levels of academic achievement, particularly among low–income young adults who often need to combine work with learning, expanding the use of blended learning models may increase learner success…. Blended learning provides students with both the flexibility of online learning (time and place) and the structure and engagement of the in–person classroom experience.” Blended learning also has the potential to deliver better learning outcomes for more students, more cost-effectively, and at a large scale. Evidence from NGLC-funded projects will help determine if this potential is within reach.