Blended Classroom Design

Leverage technology tools and strategies in the classroom to support personalized pathways for learning

About Blended Classroom Design

According to the Christensen Institute, "Blended learning is defined as 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.

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."

Contrary to the misconception about blended learning being a strategy for computers to replace teachers, BetterLesson believes that blended learning helps to sustain and retain them by shifting teaching paradigms and making teaching and learning more personalized. Positive experiences attributed to blended learning are largely attributable to four main features of teaching in a blended environment: 

  • The availability of high quality digital content, online tools, and adaptive softwares makes it possible for teachers using a blended model to be more responsive in real-time to individual students' needs while using sustainable teaching and learning practices. 
  • The availability of digital assessment tools can significantly reduce the time teachers need to spend sifting through hundreds of small pieces of data and can increase the time they spend on identifying trends and designing customized supports and growth opportunities for their students.
  • Teachers using a blended model are able to play the role of a coach/facilitator, which ultimately is more gratifying and effective than being expected to be a "sage on the stage" all the time. 
  • The ongoing and intentional problem solving required by a blended learning model draws on teachers' creativity while encouraging experimentation and fostering deeper ownership of their practice and their students' growth and achievement. 

Why it's important

Today, most classrooms, workplaces, and even homes are truly blended environments, in which participants are expected to interact seamlessly with digital, human, and analog tools and resources. The proliferation of educational software, apps, and hardware has made it more important than ever for educators to be supported in making critical instructional decisions around how to best leverage these options in order to personalize instruction and help students develop the digital literacy skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. At the same time, almost none of the 3.5 million teachers in the United States were educated in a personalized learning environment, and a very small percentage of teachers had the opportunity to be trained in blended and personalized learning strategies in their pre-service preparation. Therefore, there is significant urgency for teachers to  learn how to integrate high quality human-to-human teaching strategies with technology-enabled learning. Effective blended classrooms hold the potential to revolutionize the way that teachers teach and students learn. 

What success looks like

In classrooms in which a blended classroom design is fully implemented: 

  • Teachers meet students where they are in their learning by providing individually tailored resources, supports, and content 
  • Teachers create a flexible and personalized learning environment dependent on real-time data, direct observation, and interaction with and feedback from students.
  • Students use technology creatively and purposefully to learn effectively and efficiently and to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways
  • Students and teachers utilize technology and digital tools in safe, legal, and ethical ways 
  • Students develop vital critical thinking skills that allow them to be innovative, independent thinkers in the classroom and beyond

Featured Strategies

Empower students to think like a historian using Newsela
Empower students to think like a historian using Newsela
Help students identify relevant research and evidence from primary and secondary sources
Help students identify relevant research and evidence from primary and secondary sources
Students create their own videos to reflect on their progress and practice their speaking skills
Students create their own videos to reflect on their progress and practice their speaking skills

Growth Areas

BetterLesson growth areas are targeted goals for growth in a learning domain through BetterLesson Coaching. Learn more about BetterLesson Coaching.
My students demonstrate digital literacy skills by effectively engaging with digital content in safe, productive, and ethical ways
I leverage digital data to provide learners with timely, actionable, and personalized feedback
My students utilize digital data to gain awareness of strengths and areas of growth, set actionable goals, and track their progress
My students and I use digital tools to build knowledge, solve complex problems, and produce artifacts of learning

Additional Reading

BetterLesson Blog Posts: 

External Resources:

How BetterLesson Can Help

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