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2 Blended learning

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Figure 4 There are many facets to online learning.

Sometimes learning and teaching do not take place entirely online or entirely face to face. ‘Blended learning’ refers to a course that includes both online and face-to-face elements.

A blended approach can bring together three core elements:

  • classroom-based activities with the teacher present;
  • online learning materials;
  • independent study using materials provided by the teacher.

This blend of activities means that educators also have a blended role, adding a ‘facilitator’ element to their work as they organise and direct group activities, both online and offline.

Blended learning can make use of the main advantages of synchronous learning:

  • teacher presence;
  • immediate feedback;
  • peer interaction.

It can combine these with the main advantages of asynchronous learning:

  • independence;
  • flexibility;
  • self-pacing.

It can also help to avoid the possible issues of asynchronous learning, such as learner isolation and difficulty with motivation, as well as the possible issues of face-to-face learning, such as lack of flexibility and the need to work at the same pace as others.