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Category: IT Education
Blended Learning Models
Char les R. Gr aham
Brigham Young University, USA
Copyright 2009, IGI Global, distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.
Technological advances and widespread access to informa-
tion and communication technologies (ICTs) have facilitated
the rapid growth of blended learning approaches in both
higher education and corporate training contexts. In 2002,
the president of Pennsylvania State University expressed
his belief that blended learning was the single greatest
unrecognized trend in higher education (Young, 2002, p.
A33). At the same time, the American Society for Training
and Development also identifed blended learning as one
of the top 10 emergent trends in the knowledge delivery
industry (Finn, 2002). Since then, the visibility of blended
learning environments has increased dramatically in both
formal education and corporate training settings. At the
third annual Sloan-C Workshop on Blended Learning and
Higher Education, Frank Mayadas, the program director
for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, predicted that by 2010
you will be hard pressed to fnd a course that is not blended
(Mayadas, 2006). There is increasing interest in the concept of
blended learning as evidenced by greater numbers of books,
journal articles, and trade magazine articles that directly
address issues related to blended learning. This article will
provide an overview of current models of blended learning
and provide references to the most recent resources in this
emergent area of research and practice.
The use of the term blended learning is relatively new in
both higher education and corporate settings. In higher
education, the term hybrid course was often used prior
to the emergence of the term blended learning, and now
the two terms are used interchangeably. Because term is
relatively new, there are still ongoing debates regarding the
precise meaning and relevance of the term (Driscoll, 2002;
Graham, Allen, & Ure, 2003; Laster, 2004; Masie, 2005;
Oliver & Trigwell, 2005; Osguthorpe & Graham, 2003).
However, the most commonly held position is that blended
learning environments combine face-to-face instruction with
technology-mediated instruction (Graham, 2005; Graham et
al., 2003). This defnition highlights the ongoing convergence
of two archetypal learning environments: the traditional
face-to-face (F2F) environment with the distributed (or
technology-mediated) environment (see Figure 1).
There are many reasons why a blended approach to learn-
ing might be selected. The three most common reasons for
blending listed in the literature are:
To increase learning effectiveness
To increase convenience and access
To increase cost effectiveness
Often educators adopt a blended approach in order to
explore tradeoffs between more than one of these goals
simultaneously (e.g., increasing the convenience to stu-
dents afforded by an asynchronous distributed environment
without completely eliminating the human touch from the
F2F environment). While blended learning is appealing to
many because it enables one to take advantage of the best
of both worlds (Morgan, 2002; Young, 2002), blended
learning environments can also mix the least effective ele-
ments of both F2F and technology-mediated worlds if not
designed well.
The concept of blended learning is simple and elegant.
However, there are numerous ways that blended learning
Figure 1. Blended learning combines traditional face-to-face
and computer mediated instruction

Blended Learning Models
can be implemented in a wide variety of different contexts.
For this reason, it is important to share successful models
of blended learning so that all can beneft. Sharing models
of blended learning can help to facilitate the purposeful and
disciplined adoption of appropriate blended learning strate-
gies. This section of the article will present several models
of blended learning. Because of space constraints it is not
possible to share all of the details of the models, but a rich
set of references is provided that will allow the reader to fnd
additional details for the examples of interest.
It is important to understand that blending occurs at
many different levels including the institutional level, the
program level, the course level, and the activity level (see
Figure 2). Typically, models at the course and activity levels
have instructor stakeholders who are primarily interested in
issues of learning effectiveness and productivity. Blended
learning that occurs at the program and institutional levels
typically has administrator stakeholders who are often driven
by issues of cost effectiveness and expanding access of the
learning to untapped audiences. Specifc examples of blended
learning at each of these levels can be found in The Handbook
of Blended Learning (Graham, 2005) and The Encyclopedia
of Distance Learning (Graham & Allen, in press).
Because there is such a wide range of possible blends in
the different contexts, it can be helpful to think of three major
categories of blends: enabling blends, enhancing blends, and
transforming blends. Table 1 contains a description of each
category and specifc examples for each.
The distinctions here are particularly important when
considering the impact of blended learning on learning ef-
Figure 2. Different levels where blended learning can occur
Category Description Examples
Enabling blends primarily focus
on addressing issues of access
and convenience. They often use
information and communica-
tion technologies as a way to
provide equivalent learning
experiences to the predominant
face-to-face modality.
1. Many of the for-proft institutions like University of Phoenix (Lindquist, 2005) have
models that focus on making educational opportunities available to those who do not
have access due to time and location constraints.
2. National University has a teacher preparation program geared toward access and fex-
ibility (Reynolds & Greiner, 2005).
3. Many international education and training programs are also focused on providing access
(e.g., World Bank, Jagannathan, 2005, Mexicos Red Escolar program, Acua Limn,
2005, etc.).
Enhancing blends allow for
incremental changes to the
pedagogy. They are often char-
acterized by the inclusion of
supplemental online resources
and/or the implementation of
online activities that are small
in scope when compared to the
overall course.
4. University of Glamorgan, Wales (Jones, 2005) has a continuum of e-learning that includes
four levels, the frst two of which represent enhancing blends: (1) Basic ICT usage (e.g.,
PowerPoint presentations) and (2) E-enhanced ( e.g., access to online resources, use of
Bb for productivity such as announcements, lecture notes, etc.).
5. University of Waikato, New Zealand (Wright, Dewstow, Topping, & Tappenden, 2005)
has a model for enhancing F2F courses that includes levels such as Supported Online
(e.g., traditional F2F with access to materials provided online) and Somewhat Online
(e.g., includes an online course component for on-campus students).
6. University of Central Florida, U.S. (Dziuban, Hartman, Juge, Moskal, & Sorg, 2005) has
a model that includes W courses (e.g., fully online), M courses (e.g., mixed, reduced
F2F contact courses), and E courses (e.g., Web enhanced courses). E courses use online
or Web components to enhance a traditional F2F course.
Transforming blends allow for
a signifcant change in pedago-
gy that facilitates active learner
construction of knowledge.
7. Use of instructional simulations such as the Virtual Audiometer and Virtual Chem Lab
at Brigham Young University are changing the ways in which students learn and solve
problems (Graham & Robison, in press; West & Graham, 2005).
8. Authentic learning environments that bring real world contexts into the classroom (Oliver
& Trigwell, 2005) or integrate formal learning with workplace learning (Collis, 2005;
DeViney & Lewis, 2005; Singh, 2005) can be supported through the use of blended
learning approaches.
9. Mixed reality technologies facilitate the blending of F2F and virtual worlds and are
transforming the kinds of learning and performance support that is taking place in
industrial and military contexts (Kirkley & Kirkley, 2005; Wisher, 2005).
Table 1. Three categories of blends with examples

Blended Learning Models
fectiveness. An enhancing blend might serve as a stepping-
stone to a more transformative blend, or it might end up
superfcially impacting student learning (Graham & Dziuban,
submitted; Graham & Robison, in press).
higher education models
In higher education the primary path to blended learning is
from a predominantly F2F environment to a blended environ-
ment (see Path 1 in Figure 3). There is also a path (though
much smaller) from an entirely distributed environment to
a blended environment (see Path 2 in Figure 3). Path 3 (see
Figure 3) occurs most often in corporate contexts when new
programs and courses are developed from scratch to meet
an emerging need.
Models that involve Path 2 movement typically occur
with the goal of adding human touch to a distance course
or program where access to the F2F environment is possible
but less convenient. In these cases we see blends including a
limited number of F2F events such as a residency requirement
(Offerman & Tassava, 2005; Pease, 2005), F2F orientations
and/or fnal project presentations (Lindquist, 2005), or op-
tional F2F help sessions for struggling learners.
Faculty adoption of blended learning that involves Path
1 movement occurs via gradual change or systemic change
(see Figure 4). Most often it occurs via gradual change or
what Collis and van der Wende (2002) call stretching the
mould. This involves exploration and adoption of blended
learning strategies such as enhancing a course with online
resources and activities.
At frst, F2F contact time may not be reduced because
enhancements are small and exploratory. As online activities
become more successful and more integral to the course,
faculty reduce their F2F contact time to accommodate
the online activities. Researchers have documented the
tendency among many faculty designing blended learning
Figure 3. Three paths for designing blended learning environments
Figure 4. Two ways of moving from a traditional F2F learning environment to a blended learning environment

Blended Learning Models
courses to keep adding online components to the traditional
course without eliminating anything. This phenomenon is
known as the course-and-a-half syndrome (Kaleta, Skibba,
& Joosten, in press).
To date, systemic change has not been as wide spread
as gradual change toward blended learning. Systemic ap-
proaches to designing blended learning involve whole course
redesign. Some of the best documented cases of course
redesign efforts involving blended learning come from the
Program in Course Redesign supported by the PEW Chari-
table Trusts (Twigg, 2003). The goal of this project was to
see if 30 large enrollment courses from across the United
States could be redesigned using technology to simultane-
ously provide both reductions in cost and gains in learning
outcomes. The majority of the course redesign efforts in-
volved moving from a traditional course delivery to a blended
learning approach. Table 2 outlines fve specifc models of
blended learning that resulted from the efforts.
corporate and military models
Blended learning in corporate settings is driven by the desire
to improve return on investment (ROI) of training dollars.
This means driving down the costs and trying to increase
the impact of training. Bersin and Associates (2003) stud-
ied blended training in major programs that impacted over
100,000 employees at 15 large corporations. They found
that the ROI for blended learning programs was 100%+ in
almost every case and much larger in some cases. Similarly,
IBM documented a 17:1 ROI for deployment of its blended
learning leadership management program (Lewis & Orton,
Blended learning models in corporate settings are even
more varied than in higher education settings. F2F human
interaction is arguably the most powerful learning inter-
vention and the most costly (Lewis & Orton, 2005). Data
show that instructor led training (ILT) is still by far the most
prevalent mode of training delivery (Ziob & Mosher, 2005).
So, most blended learning models seek to use human interac-
tion strategically and replace much of the F2F interaction
with interactive simulations, performance support systems,
or technology mediated interactions with colleagues that
eliminate the need for expensive travel.
For example, IBM has a four-tiered approach where
learners have access to a performance support database,
interactive learning simulations, a live-virtual collabora-
tive learning environment, and F2F learning laboratories.
Learners in the program begin with 26 weeks of self-paced
online learning after which they participate in a fve-day
in-class learning lab. The F2F lab experience is followed
by a 25-week online learning experience that focuses on
application of skills and knowledge (Lewis & Orton, 2005).
Similarly, Oracles leadership training program (Hanson &
Clem, 2005) and Avayas sales training program (Chute,
Williams, & Hancock, 2005) both used limited and strategi-
cally placed F2F sessions embedded within a wide variety
of computer-mediated and self-paced activities to reach
their goals. The use of technology to facilitate training is
Model Description
Supplemental Model
Lecture portion of class kept intact
Supplemental online materials provided
Online quizzes
Additional online activities
Replacement Model
Reduction of in-class meeting time
Replacement of face-to-face (F2F) class time with online activities
Online activities can take place in a computer lab or at home
Buffet Model
Student chooses learning options
Discovery laboratories
Individual projects
Team/group activities
And so forth
Emporium Model
Eliminates class meetings
Substitutes a learning resource center with
(1) online materials and
(2) on-demand personal assistance
Fully Online Model
All online learning activities
No required F2F class meetings
(In some cases) optional F2F help
Table 2. Models developed from 30 course redesign efforts sponsored by the PEW charitable trusts (Twigg, 2003)

Blended Learning Models
facilitating a greater integration between formal learning
and informal or workplace learning (Collis, 2005; DeViney
& Lewis, 2005; Singh, 2005). Increasingly, learners are able
to engage with a formal instructor at a distance and have
learning activities and assignments mediated in the local
context by a manager or mentor.
A second corporate model that is worth mentioning can
be seen in the Cisco Networking Academy (Dennis et al.,
2005; Selinger, 2005). The Cisco Networking Academy is
a global training program for Internet technology skills that
is implemented in more than 150 countries across the world
and has over 400,000 enrollments. The academy provides
centralized Web-based curriculum, online assessments,
and tracking of student performance. At each academy site
instructors are able to use the Web-based content and cus-
tomize it to support the specifc needs of their local students.
This approach allows courses to be offered as Web-based
training or instructor-led training, or a blend of both to best
accommodate the learning preferences and work styles of
the learners (Selinger, 2005). This blended approach also
facilitates cultural adaptation and localization of curriculum
to meet diverse cultural needs.
Finally, military and some high-tech industrial contexts
are employing mixed reality environments that blend F2F
interactions with interactions in a virtual world (Kirkley &
Kirkley, 2005). For example, the U.S. military is training with
live-virtual-constructive learning exercises, which meld the
real world with the simulated world. Wisher (2005, p. 527)
writes about one such exercise with the task of conducting
an amphibious assault that involved seventeen military units
(live), six simulators (virtual), and twenty one simulations
It is hard to predict exactly what the future holds for blended
learning environments. It is very likely that the use of blended
learning in both higher education and corporate contexts will
continue to grow. In fact, there may come a time when the
traditional learning environment is predominantly a blended
learning environment and it no longer makes sense to use
the adjective blended. An example of this is the fact that
the University of Central Florida has considered dropping
its (E)nhanced course designation because virtually all the
university courses have a Web presence (Dziuban, 2006).
There is likely to be an increased focus in higher education
on the transformative potential of blended learning (Garrison
& Kanuta, 2004; Graham & Robison, in press). Rather than
focus on whether blending is happening or not, universities
will focus more on the quality of the blend and seek to un-
derstand how faculty can be trained and supported to teach
in blended learning environments.
There is evidence that administrators and students in
K-12 environments (particularly in high school and home
school settings) are beginning to explore the possibilities
of blended learning. Corporate and military contexts are
likely to be the ones that continue to push the technological
envelope, exploring the use of more expensive technologies,
although increasingly simulations may be used in K-12 and
higher education classrooms.
Finally, Bonk, Kim, and Zeng (2005, p. 560) make 10
predictions related to blended learning in the future:
1. the increased use of mobile devices in blended learning
2. greater use of visualization tools and hands-on learning
in blended learning
3. increased learner input in the design of their own
learning programs
4. increased connectedness, community, and collabora-
5. increased authenticity and on-demand learning
6. stronger ties between work and learning
7. calendaring system will need to change and be more
8. programs will begin to include blended learning course
9. instructor roles will increasingly move toward that of
mentor, coach, and counselor
10. blended learning specialist teaching certifcates will
During the past decade, distributed learning has made huge
strides in popularity in both higher education and corporate
sectors of society. The use of technology has increased access
to educational resources and facilitated communication in a
way that was not previously possible. Despite the strengths
that online learning environments provide, there are differ-
ent strengths inherent in traditional F2F learning environ-
ments. The current trend toward blending both online and
F2F instruction is a positive direction and merits increased
attention and study. Because the possibilities inherent in
a blended environment are so vast, it is important that we
begin to develop and share successful models of blended
learning at all the different levels (see Figure 2) and contexts
in which it can occur.
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Key terms
Affordances: Features of an environment or artifact that
afford or permit certain behaviors.
Blended Lear ning Environment: A learning environ-
ment that combines face-to-face and computer-mediated
Distr ibuted Lear ning Environment: A learning en-
vironment where participants are not co-located and use
computer-based technologies to access instruction and
communicate with others.
Hybr id Cour se: Another name for a blended course.
Typically a course that replaces some F2F instructional time
with computer-mediated activities.

Blended Learning Models
Performance Support Systems: Systems that are de-
signed to improve human performance through many dif-
ferent kinds of interventions including but not being limited
to instructional interventions.
Retur n on Investment (ROI): A measurement evaluat-
ing the gains versus the costs of an investment.
Technology-Mediated Lear ning Environment: An-
other name for a distributed learning environment.