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Which Blended Learning Model is Right for You?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 -- Scott Sterling

There are as many blended learning models available as there are students who forget their homework. While there are certain similarities among the models, as well as stark differences, here are the questions you need to ask yourself before embarking on the blended learning journey:

What are my available resources?

Blended learning requires at least some access to technology, even if it’s just once a week in a computer lab down the hall. The more access your students have, the more options available to you as a facilitator. If every child has a device with them all the time, the sky’s the limit—including flipped learning and other schemes.

How does my subject translate to online learning?

Blended learning can be effective for every subject area. There are even flipped learning videos available for phys-ed teachers. But how can your subject—meaning how you teach your particular class—benefit from online learning? The easy way to answer that: figure out what you like about your day and what you dislike. Can you redistribute what you don’t like to the computers? If so, it’s worth further investigation.

How much time do I want the students to spend online?

This question might be just as dictated by access as it is by personal preference. In certain rotational and flex models, students move from online to the “real world” throughout the period, either to maximize space or to mix in some direct instruction or hands-on learning. Then there are models where the student is plugged in for the majority of the time, perhaps even in a location other than the brick-and-mortar school.

Who makes curriculum decisions?

There are products out there that, through formative assessment, make curriculum prescriptions individually for each student and then deliver the needed content through their blended learning platform. That’s a big step toward true differentiation and is worth considering, but some teachers want more input than that. Can you hand over the keys to a computer system?

Who is giving the direct instruction?

Some teachers just aren’t comfortable with handing over the reins, especially to a computer. In some models, on the other hand, teachers are just there for special remediation and troubleshooting. This is particularly popular in high school “a la carte” credit recovery programs. Figure out what you want your classroom to look like on a daily basis and go from there.