Recently I’ve been exploring the concept of blended learning thanks to one of the courses I’m taking at the UCL Institute of Education. One of the papers I was introduced to was ‘The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning‘ (2011) by Michael Horn and Heather Staker. Before reading this paper I had an idea that blended learning was literally blending different teaching styles and activities together and mixing it up with technology, however blended learning is not the same as technology-rich instruction. The term blended learning refers to a specific pedagogy where part of the course is delivered in the classroom and part delivered outside of the classroom environment using technology.
“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 and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.” (Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive, Christensen, Horn and Staker, 2013, p7)
This paper is brilliant – not only in its clear, easy to read and digest format – but in its categorising of blended learning, giving a vocabulary to identify and describe practice that we see and offering advice on the best approaches for the best outcomes. Their more recent paper, ‘Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive‘ published in 2013, further probes this concept and asks if we are in reality sustaining old practices or actually transforming the way we ‘do school’ to benefit all learners. Is school as we know it fit for purpose? How can technology reduce the barriers to learning that exist in our school systems and what can we do to truly offer our students personalisation and choice.
These papers led me to the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, and they have a new book out – ‘Blended – Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools‘. Off to get a copy now…
“Blended gives concrete examples of how educators, parents and learners can move us all to a world where technology makes the classroom more human, not less.” Sal Kahn, Founder, Khan Academy
I highly recommend these papers to you and the amazing work of the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation when thinking about blended learning environments and as we continually consider, practice and evaluate how we use technology to support, enhance and transform learning.