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New Paper Refines Blended Learning Classifications

The Innosight Institute this week released a new white paper in which it takes the previous six categories it created to differentiate blended learning models and, well, blends them.

The 22-page document called "Classifying K-12 Blended Learning" simplifies the work of a previous paper from the institute and emerges with four new models of blended learning: the rotation, flex, self-blend, and enriched-virtual models. That's two down from a previous document released in January of 2011, indicative of a purposeful effort to create a less rigid taxonomy that might not account for the diversity of some blended models.

This new document also includes a new definition of blended learning that makes the stipulation that face-to-face instruction in any blended model must occur outside of a student's residence. This differentiates blended models from fully online models where a student may receive supplemental instruction from a parent or caregiver.

Since the Internet is awesome, there's no need to go over the previous taxonomy. But here's a summary of the refined one:

• the rotation model includes all blended learning models in which students rotate between modalities that include an online component within a singular course;

• the flex model connotes models where instruction is delivered primarily online and students rotate between online and face-to-face study on a customized schedule that varies based on each student's individual needs;

• the self-blend model stipulates any arrangement where students alternate between fully online and fully brick-and-mortar courses; and

• the enriched-virtual model represents models where students on a school-wide model alternate between studying remotely and studying at a brick-and-mortar location.

The classifications represent differences in the structure of blended learning models, but do not have implications by themselves for relative quality, the white paper says.

"Just as a hybrid car can be either efficient or a clunker and still be a hybrid car, blended learning can be both good and bad," the paper reads.

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