In February 2016, the Christensen Institute debuted the Blended Learning Universe (BLU)—an online hub of blended learning resources—in response to more and more schools across the U.S. implementing a blended-learning strategy for students. Researchers at the Institute define blended learning as a formal education program that must have three components: it must be part online, with students having some control over the time, place, path, or pace of their learning; it must occur, in part, in a brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along a student’s learning path must be connected to provide an integrated learning experience.
The BLU houses a directory of blended schools around the world. This directory has helped researchers amass an informative database indicating changes over time across the blended-learning space. Of course, while this isn’t an exhaustive picture of K-12 blended implementations across the world, it is enough data to reveal insightful trends and debunk some of the most common myths surrounding blended learning.
As we kick off the new year, here are 5 myths that blended-learning educators should be aware of:
Myth 1. Blended learning is an exclusive approach. Make your choice now!
Fact: Blended learning is an engine that can power and accelerate many instructional approaches.
Blended learning doesn’t come at the expense of other innovative approaches. The seven blended-learning models can complement everything from competency-based education to project-based learning. That’s because blended learning affords the kind of structural flexibilities that benefit other innovative approaches, such as enabling students to work at their own pace, or freeing up teacher time to focus on advising student-driven projects.
Trailblazer Elementary in Colorado Springs School District 11 is a great example of how schools layer new approaches on top of blended learning. According to its profile on The Learning Accelerator, Trailblazer began doing blended learning in 2015 using the Station Rotation and Individual Rotation models. These two models operate in service of Trailblazer’s ongoing effort to build towards a mastery-based and personalized system.
Myth 2. I’m doing personalized learning, not blended learning.
Fact: Chances are that if you’re personalizing student learning using some form(s) of technology, you’re probably practicing blended learning, too.
Personalized learning doesn’t require technology—after all, if every student had an individual tutor, learning would be highly personalized! But blended learning is a critical driver for personalization at scale. It allows students to take a degree of control over their own learning path, pace, time, and even place, and takes pressure off teachers to differentiate “by hand” for each student all the time. Plus, as our emerging framework for teacher impact shows, teaching with technology using a blended-learning model can unlock teacher time for other non-technological aspects of personalized learning, such as building strong personal relationships with students.