Just like online learning and m-learning, blended learning is not a new concept although it became more widely available only in the first decade of the 21st century. There are some differences in regard to the term’s definition but it is most commonly understood as a combination of the traditional, brick-and-mortar learning and online learning. This means that it involves the use of both face-to-face training, and information and communication (IC) technology which is supposed to enhance the overall learning experience.
Blended learning is literally a blend of the on-the-ground learning in a brick-and-mortar classroom setting and online or/and mobile learning which is based on the use of the Internet and other forms of IC technology. Unlike the ‘classic’ online and mobile learning which rely heavily on the technology, blended learning uses the IC technology as well but as a complement to the traditional learning methods. In blended learning, IC technology is typically used both within and outside the traditional classroom setting.
According to researchers who investigated the outcomes of blended learning, the latter is more effective than both purely online learning and the traditional face-to-face education.
The thing that makes blended learning especially attractive to both learners and educators is that it combines all the best of the traditional and IC technology-based learning while eliminating most of their disadvantages. Some of its main advantages include:
More engaging and rewarding learning experience. The use of the IC technology makes the traditional learning more exciting, interesting and fun which in turn makes the overall learning experience more engaging and rewarding. This also clearly reveals the fact that ‘blended’ learners on average achieve better results that their colleagues studying purely online or offline.
Unique combination of convenience and social interaction. Blended learning offers the convenience of online learning but since it also foresees on-the-ground activities, it provides the ability of face-to-face interaction with other learners as well as instructors/educators.
Better communication between learners and educators. Interestingly, communication between learners and educators is much better than in the traditional learning setting that doesn’t incorporate the use of IC technology.
The main disadvantage of blended learning is its strong reliance on the IC technology. Also, it may require high initial investment in technology.