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Definition and models

A fast growing number of university campuses, high schools and even primary schools across Hungary are awakening to the possibilities of blended learning. The common denominator in their programs is often setting up the goal of tapping into ways of controlling costs, personalizing learning, reaching out their institutional programs to possible students in remote, otherwise hardly accessible areas. Blended learning is a convenient alternative to traditional correspondence courses, as a higher number of guided study sessions are offered with less travel and related costs. Blended learning, the combination of traditional face-to-face teaching methods with authentic on-line learning activities, has the potential to transform student learning experiences and outcomes. In spite of this advantage, teachers often find it difficult to adopt new online techniques, in part because institutional practices are still geared to support more traditional approaches (Davis & Fill 1). A more profound knowledge of their own teaching processes may be gained through classroom observation and the subsequent evaluation of their findings. Another difficulty with blended learning is that it demands time and effort from the teachers to prepare tasksheets, explanation extracts, resources, assignments, all in all considerably more work than required in traditional teaching. With distant course participants it is even more challenging to get appropriate feedback from learners while the course is still going on. Not to mention if anything needs to be changed immediately as it fails to achieve desired results. 

Blended-learning experiences are also called hybrid learning and mixed-mode learning. Due to the fact that blended learning comes as a relatively new tool in higher education, the definitions that have emerged in connection with it tend to be somewhat controversial. According to the The Glossary of Education Reform ( ) blended learning experiences may largely vary in design and execution from institution to institution. That is to say, the instructors integrate computer technology and online tasks in different ways in theri classrooms.

For example, in some contexts online learning may be a minor component part of a classroom-based course. Yet, in other settings, video-recorded lectures and other digitally enabled learning activities may be a student’s primary instructional interactions with a teacher.

Again, in some cases, students may work independently on online lessons and assignments outside the school and only periodically meet with teachers for face-to-face instruction or in order to review their learning progress, discuss their work, ask questions, or receive assistance In other cases, students may spend their entire day in a traditional instructional framework and spend only some time working independently online.

The wealth of models for blended learning (also shown in the chart below) clearly shows that there is no one-size-fits-all when we talk about blended learning. Hybrid classes can be as different as students, teachers and classrooms themselves.

However, the literature suggests certain common characteristics that seem to make blended classes successful. These two basic requirements are the following: (1) teachers must be commited and well-trained in the techniques of blended learning; and (2) students must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in this new learning environment. (

The Clayton Christensen Institute ( presents the four main models of blended learning and some of its sub-models in the following figure:

The definition of blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns:

(1) at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;

(2) at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;

(3) and the modalities along each student's learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.


The majority of blended-learning programs resemble one of four models: Rotation, Flex, A La Carte, and Enriched Virtual. The Rotation model includes four sub-models: Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, and Individual Rotation.

1. Rotation model - a course or subject in which students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher's discretion between learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning. Other modalities might include activities such as small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, and pencil-and-paper assignments. The students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments.

a. Station Rotation - a course or subject in which students experience the Rotation model within a contained classroom or group of classrooms. The Station Rotation model differs from the Individual Rotation model because students rotate through all of the stations, not only those on their custom schedules.

b. Lab Rotation - a course or subject in which students rotate to a computer lab for the online-learning station.

c. Flipped Classroom - a course or subject in which students participate in online learning off-site in place of traditional homework and then attend the brick-and-mortar school for face-to-face, teacher-guided practice or projects. The primary delivery of content and instruction is online, which differentiates a Flipped Classroom from students who are merely doing homework practice online at night.

d. Individual Rotation - a course or subject in which each student has an individualized playlist and does not necessarily rotate to each available station or modality. An algorithm or teacher(s) sets individual student schedules.

2. Flex model - a course or subject in which online learning is the backbone of student learning, even if it directs students to offline activities at times. Students move on an individually customized, fluid schedule among learning modalities. The teacher of record is on-site, and students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments. The teacher of record or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring. Some implementations have substantial face-to-face support, whereas others have minimal support. For example, some Flex models may have face-to-face certified teachers who supplement the online learning on a daily basis, whereas others may provide little face-to-face enrichment. Still others may have different staffing combinations. These variations are useful modifiers to describe a particular Flex model.

3. A La Carte model - a course that a student takes entirely online to accompany other experiences that the student is having at a brick-and-mortar school or learning center. The teacher of record for the A La Carte course is the online teacher. Students may take the A La Carte course either on the brick-and-mortar campus or off-site. This differs from full-time online learning because it is not a whole-school experience. Students take some courses A La Carte and others face-to-face at a brick-and-mortar campus.

4. Enriched Virtual model - a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with their teacher of record and then are free to complete their remaining coursework remote from the face-to-face teacher. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are located remotely. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher. Many Enriched Virtual programs began as full-time online schools and then developed blended programs to provide students with brick-and-mortar school experiences. The Enriched Virtual model differs from the Flipped Classroom because in Enriched Virtual programs, students seldom meet face-to-face with their teachers every weekday. It differs from a fully online course because face-to-face learning sessions are more than optional office hours or social events; they are required.


More information on these models and sub-models can be found on: