Blended learning

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1 Definition

Note: We refer to more ambitious designs that include for instance ubiquitous learning scenarios as integrated learning.

Other definitions
  • Margareth Driscoll in her research for a book, found that the term blended learning referred to four different concepts:
  1. To combine or mix modes of web-based technology (e.g., live virtual classroom, self-paced instruction, collaborative learning, streaming video, audio, and text) to accomplish an educational goal.
  2. To combine various pedagogical approaches (e.g., constructivism, behaviorism, cognitivism) to produce an optimal learning outcome with or without instructional technology.
  3. To combine any form of instructional technology (e.g., videotape, CD-ROM, web-based training, film) with face-to-face instructor-led training.
  4. To mix or combine instructional technology with actual job tasks in order to create a harmonious effect of learning and working.
  • “Blended learning is the combination of multiple approaches to pedagogy or teaching. For example:- self-paced, collaborative or inquiry-based study. Blended learning can be accomplished through the use of 'blended' virtual and physical resources. Examples include combinations of technology-based materials and traditional print materials.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 21:17, 13 September 2006 (MEST))
  • “The term blended learning is used to describe a solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, Web-based courses, EPSS, and knowledge management practices. Blended learning also is used to describe learning that mixes various event-based activities, including face-to-face classrooms, live e-learning, and self-paced learning.” (P.Valiathan, retrieved 21:17, 13 September 2006 (MEST))
  • The future direction of e-learning has been defined as "blended learning"

2 Blended learning vs. hybrid learning

The terms blended learning and hybrid learning sometimes seem to be used interchangeably (Ryan et al., 2016). According to Bernard et al. (2014), who builds on Graham’s definition (2005), blended learning can be defined as “the combination of instruction from two historically separate models of teaching and learning: traditional Face-to-Face (F2F) learning systems and distributed learning systems” (p. 91). In some cases, blended learning is seen as the more effective counterpart to the other two formats used separately (Pellas and Kazandis, 2015; González-Gómez et al., 2016) insofar as it is, e.g., characterized as F2F and online learning being “optimally integrated” or combining their “benefits” (Adams, Randall and Traustadóttir, 2015). Moreover, several studies seem to agree that blended learning is definable according to the relative time spent on respectively online and F2F instruction in courses. Thus, at least 50 percent of total course time dedicated to F2F instruction appears to be the lower limits of in-class components in the blended learning format (Bernard et al., 2014).

Many studies compare the effect on students’ learning outcome generated by respectively F2F teaching and/or blended learning. In Bernard et al.’s (2014) meta-study of blended learning in higher education, students in blended programs have turned out to achieve slightly better than students following traditional classroom instruction programs. Similar findings have been made by other studies – e.g., Northey et al. (2015), Southard, Meddaug and Harris (2015), González-Gómez et al. (2016) and Ryan et al. (2016).

What leads to a better learning outcome among students in online and blended learning programs is, however, a question that is not answered in the same way by all the studies mentioned. Bernard et al. (2014) conclude that the element of technology integration in blended learning courses seems to lead to very low, though significant improvement in student achievement – particularly when technology yields cognitive support (e.g., simulations) or facilitates student interaction (i.e., with other students, content and teachers). In GonzálezGómez et al.’s study (2016), it is the adoption of a flipped classroom model of blended learning in a general science course that results in higher grades among teacher training students when compared with those achieved by students following a traditional classroom setting. Though no specific predictor is mentioned by otter (2015), the former still observes modest positive impacts on students’ learning outcome resulting from the adoption of the blended format, while the latter records grades “significantly higher in the hybrid option than for the traditional face-to-face format” (p. 7).

Despite widespread agreement that the blended learning format produces better learning achievement among students, other studies have shown the exact opposite. In a comparative study by Adams, Randall and Traustadóttir (2015) the overall finding is that university students following a hybrid introductory course in microbiology were less successful than their peers following the same course in a F2F version. Less interaction with the material or a sense of isolation arising from less class attendance are counted among potential reasons for the hybrid students’ lower success.

3 Links


  • Christian-Carter, Judith (2005) Integrated e-learning. Review of Jochems, Wim et al. Integrated e-learning, British Journal of Educational Technology, 36 (4), 698-699. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2005.00547_6.x
  • Blended Learning, Resources for teachers and learners interested in networked and blended learning
  • Blended learning introduction by SiliconSchools and Clayton Christensen Insitute @ the Khan Academy (acessed 4/2014)

4 References

(few so far, this article is just a stub for now}

  • Boyle, Tom, Claire Bradley, Peter Chalk, Ray Jones, Poppy Pickard (2003), Using Blended Learning to Improve Student Success Rates in Learning to Program, Journal of Educational Media, Volume 28, Numbers 2-3 / October 2003 DOI 10.1080/1358165032000153160 (Access restricted).
  • Caroline Gray, Blended Learning: Why Everything Old Is New Again-But Better, Learning Circuits, HTML
  • Derntl, Michael & Renate Motschnig-Pitrik (2004), Patterns for blended, Person-Centered learning: strategy, concepts, experiences, and evaluation, Proceedings of the 2004 ACM symposium on Applied computing, Abstract (PDF (Access restricted)). This article proposed a model that could help systems designers making better environments.
  • Driscoll, M. (2002), Blended learning: Let's get beyond the hype. E-Learning, vol. 3, no. 3, p. 54.
  • Driscoll, Margaret, Blended Learning: Let's Get Beyond the Hype, IMB Global Services, PDF, retrieved 21:17, 13 September 2006 (MEST). (The author writes textbooks about e-learning).
  • Holden, Jolly T. and Westfall, Philip, J-L., (2005), An Instructional Media Selection Guide for Distance Learning, Second Edition, United States Distance Learning Association, PDF (This is an free publication with an entry on blended learning)
  • Kerres, Michael & Claudia De Witt, A Didactical Framework for the Design of Blended Learning Arrangements, Journal of Educational Media, Volume 28, Numbers 2-3 / October 2003, DOI: 10.1080/1358165032000165653 (Access restricted).
  • Martyn, Margie (2003). "The hybrid online model: Good practice.". Educause Quarterly: 18–23. Abstract PDF
  • Tselios, Nikolaos, Stelios Daskalakis, and Maria Papadopoulou. (2011) "Assessing the Acceptance of a Blended Learning University Course." Journal of Educational Technology & Society 14 (2).
  • Nortvig, A. M., Petersen, A. K., and Balle, S. H., 2018. A Literature Review of the Factors Influencing ELearning and Blended Learning in Relation to Learning Outcome, Student Satisfaction and Engagement. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 16(1), pp. 46-55, available online at Digital learning in emergencies