Blended learning can be defined as a formal, organized learning program in which a student learns through a combination of online learning with the time and place of the student’s discretion and learning in a brick-and-mortar classroom. Blended learning may also be called hybrid learning; flipped classroom structures are one type of blended learning. For institutions or instructors considering implementing blended learning models, it can be helpful to recognize that there are four distinct and different models of blended learning.

The Rotation Model

The rotation model is a course in which students rotate between different learning modalities, often on the instructor’s schedule or design. One of these learning modalities can be online learning; in the rotation model, online learning may take place on the student’s schedule or as part of a classroom rotation using a computer lab. The flipped classroom model is a common example of a a rotation model used in a higher education setting.

The Flex Model

While the rotation model applies to a single course, in the flex model, all courses rotate between different learning modalities. Students still attend courses or components of courses on-campus, with on-campus instructors, but all classes on the campus have online learning components.

The a la Carte Model

In the a la carte model, students may take both online courses and in-person courses while enrolled as a full-time, on-campus student. They can select how to take their courses, depending upon their individual needs. Online instructors are typically available in person when needed. Students in this model typically take some classes online, and others in the classroom.

The Enriched Virtual Model

In the enriched virtual model, the majority of the course is online. Students may meet with instructors or fellow students occasionally, but often on a much more limited schedule than the other models. Face-to-face sessions are required, rather than optional. This is the key difference between an enriched virtual course and an online-only course.

Implementing Blended Learning

Institutions and instructors opt to implement blended learning in different models, and multiple models may be used in the same institution. For instance, instructors on campus might opt for rotation models, while a la carte and enriched virtual models are available to both full-time and part-time students. Blended learning provides a range of benefits for both traditional and non-traditional students, including increased access to materials, support for different learning styles, improved opportunities for different types of interaction and greater educational opportunities.
Clayton Christensen Institute. (2016) Blended Learning Definitions. Retrieved from