Blended learning is a way of teaching that combines online resources with in-person instruction to create a more personalized learning environment.
With blended learning, instructors often make some or all of the content available to the students outside of class-time.
Taking this to the extreme, students could consume all of the traditional lecture material at home at their own pace, and during class time students could complete work assignments traditionally given as homework during class, as well as other activities like team-based or project-based learning.
This describes the flipped classroom model, because it flips what students do at home and in the classroom.
Typically when a teacher creates a lecture they have to make an educated guess about the knowledge level of their audience, as they have limited information about what each student knows or remembers.
If a lecture is too difficult, then most of the students will be lost.
If it’s too easy, then most of the students will be bored.
So teachers typically end up lecturing to the mythical middle of the class, and hoping for the best.
By placing didactic content online, students can move at their own pace.
Those who are familiar with the material can go through it quickly—even watching it at an increased speed!
While others who aren’t as familiar with it can pause to take notes, rewatch it, or call up other resources to help them understand a concept being explained.
An additional benefit for all students is that they can choose to engage with the material when they’re most alert, which satisfies both the early bird and the night owl.
And those students who have disabilities can take the breaks that they need without having to worry about missing out or distracting others.
Putting work assignments back in the classroom also has a number of benefits from a learning science perspective.
A lot of students describe the frustration of feeling like they understand a concept in class, but then being confused when they go home and try to apply it to an assignment.
This is also supported by research—we learn best through active work, not passive listening.
Doing work assignments during class time means that teachers are available when students need them the most—when they are trying to apply their knowledge.
Another place where students struggle traditionally is with out of class group-work, because it can be hard to coordinate an in-person meet up as well as make sure those meetings are constructive.
Moving group work into the classroom setting makes the logistics straightforward, and it also allows an instructor to keep an eye on group meetings and to help facilitate them if needed.