The Blended Learning Model is much more than creating technology-rich classrooms. Blended learning means there is an organized strategy to meet the needs of every type of learner by combining in-person and technologically driven instruction:
“To truly blend learning, teachers need to weave together the classroom and virtual educational media. It's crucial for students to see that the work they do in the online space drives the work they do in the classroom, so they recognize the value of the online conversations” (Tucker, 2013).
The Blended Learning Model brings together multiple educational theories. Carman (2005) demonstrates how this model pulls from cognitivism (Bloom, Gagne, Clark, Merrill, Keller), performance support (Gery), and constructivism (Piaget and Vygosky). Successful blended learning shares five key elements: Live events, online content with self-paced learning, collaboration, assessment, access to reference materials. One does not replace the other, and they must all be present, relevant and connected with each other to achieve blended learning. Students are empowered with around-the-clock access to their academics and the opportunity to self-monitor progress. Teachers monitor student progress, they have the flexibility to individualize support, and they empower students who show mastery of a subject/skill to become peer mentors. Peer mentoring is an important tool in the Blended Learning Model. It increases confidence for both parties, reinforces academic and skill-based material, demonstrates real-world collaboration and improves engagement by stakeholders in the entire educational process.
Blended learning gives educators new tools to create student-centered classrooms: “Giving students control over the learning process requires that they know how to communicate, collaborate, and solve problems in groups, pairs, and individually. This work can be messy, loud, and disorganized, but in the end, the learning is much more meaningful” (Tucker, 2013).
The Horizon Institute uses blended learning to make individualized learning pathways available, to provide varied pacing and to unlock student agency. Student agency is so important, because it empowers young people to take initiative, to actively monitor their own progress and to buy into the process needed to receive course credit and competency of needed skills or content.