Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blended Learning and Career and Technology Education - Part I: The Definition

In this four-part series, I’ll define blended learning, discuss the models of blended learning, the implications for career and technical education, and how the Curriculum, Assessment, and Digital Delivery (CADD) areas of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education can assist in the implementation of blended learning.

Technology has created a personalized access to the world where we can connect and learn… where we can create and share.  Almost every aspect of our lives have been changed by technology, except... education.

Over the last few years, I’ve entered into blended learning discussions with various people, including educators, and I’m always surprised at their perception of blended learning.  Many believe blended learning occurs when any type of computer-based learning takes place within the classroom.  In many instances, I would define what is occurring as technology-rich instruction, but there is a difference.

Blended learning is the combination of online learning and brick and mortar schools with teachers who enable students to learn at their own pace.  Why is this important?  Because many students learn in different ways and this allows each student to optimize their learning.  Quite simply, the purpose of blended learning is to take the best of traditional education and blend it with the power of online learning which allows for a more personalized and interactive learning experience.  Each teacher has the opportunity to review data, in the moment, and determine where the student is at and to form instruction for the next period or the next day.  Blended learning also puts the student in charge of their own learning which, to me, is a very valuable lesson in itself.

According to the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Education, blended learning “goes beyond one-to-one computers and high-tech gadgets. Blended learning involves leveraging the Internet to afford each student a more personalized learning experience, including increased student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of learning.

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

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

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

and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.”

See more at:

The key difference between blended learning and other forms of education is on its emphasis on personalized learning.  The International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL) defines personalized learning as, “Tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests–including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when and where they learn–to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible.” As you can see, the two definitions overlap, but blending learning adds online learning and leveraging the internet to personalize an individual’s learning experience.

Next- Blended Learning and Career and Technology Education - Part II: Blended Learning Models

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