The reason why these models were developed is because blended learning incorporates a lot features, most of which can be quite difficult to integrate into an effective learning program. What the blended learning models offer is a way to harmonize the different aspects of a particular blended learning program into an effective, convenient and simple learning system that meets the needs of the organization and its personnel.
What is Blended Learning
Before we can discuss what the different blended learning models are, it’s important for us to review what blended learning is all about. The simplest definition of blended learning is that it blends traditional “brick and mortar” education with online learning. Furthermore, blended learning can also be described as a series of modalities which define each person’s learning path on a particular course or subject.
The goal of blended learning is to provide each trainee with an integrated learning experience which combines the best features of both online learning as well as traditional instruction methods. In other words, blended learning is a hybrid of online education and traditional instruction. However, combining these two forms of learning is not always an easy thing to do, primarily because they are each based on different learning principles, which is why in order to successfully combine traditional education with online education, their differences need to be taken into consideration.
This is why the vast majority of blended learning programs are often designed based on at least one of the established learning models, since these models are the only ones which can harmonize the different elements of traditional and online teaching systems into a single workable whole. These models are designed to identify critical weaknesses in both systems of learning, while at the same time, providing them with a practical solution.
Blended Learning Models for Corporate Training
1. The Rotational Model In this model, the trainees are given a course that “rotates” on a predetermined schedule between different learning modalities. At least one of these “rotating” modalities is online learning, while the other modalities will include all sorts of other learning or practical education activities, including team building, knowledge retention, employee engagement or any other type of activity that the organization requires.
Because of the wide variety of activities involved in the Rotational Model, online learning only plays a relatively small role compared to other blended learning models. Nevertheless, this particular model is quite useful for organizations that would like to train their personnel in multiple modalities.
Here are the four different ways the rotational model is applied:
The Station Rotation – This version of the Rotational model requires the trainees to undergo most of their learning in a conventional class room. What makes the station rotation model unique, however, is that it requires trainees to rotate through all of the various stations, as oppose to what is just on their custom schedules.
The Individual Rotation – Although somewhat similar to the Station Rotation, it’s also important to point out that the Individual Rotation Model has its own distinctive qualities. In this model, each trainee possesses an individualized playlist, and, unlike Station Rotation, they don’t need to rotate to each available station of modality available. The instructor or computer algorithm also determines each trainee’s schedule.
The Lab Rotation – This version of the rotational model requires trainees to rotate to computer labs whenever they need to undergo online learning.
The Flipped Classroom – Under the “Flipped Classroom” model, trainees are given their lessons and instructions online, whereas projects, practice and other practical activities are carried out in a traditional brick and mortar learning facility. This model is also often contrasted with traditional educational models, where trainees are taught their lessons in a learning facility, while carrying out their tests and projects online.
2. The Enriched Virtual Model Under the Enriched Virtual Model, the trainees have face to face classes with instructors or specialists, but only for certain lessons. The rest of their training will be remote and carried out online. In this setup, it’s also worth mentioning that the same instructor will teach both face to face and online classes, which means trainees will be facing only a single instructor instead of many.
It’s also worth mentioning that under the Enriched Virtual model, trainees will not meet their instructors face to face everyday, but only every other weekday. What this means is that this particular blended learning model is ideal for people who don’t have a lot of optional office hours.
3. The A La Carte Model The A La Carte Model is often confused with full time online learning because of its heavy emphasis on online education and also because it requires instructors to teach their lessons online. However, what makes the A La Carte Model different from full online education is its flexibility. Some trainees can take some training courses A La Carte, while using other learning schemes for other courses.
4. The Flex Model Under the Flex Model, online learning becomes the primary learning tool for educating the employe. Trainees are given individually customized schedules among different learning modalities. This model also features strong face to face support for trainees, and it includes activities, such as small group instructions, group activities as well as individual tutoring. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the level of face to face support given to trainees under the Flex model will vary on a case by case basis. If the trainee proves to be adequately efficient at doing things on their own, then they will not receive a lot of support.
Blended learning is ultimately an attempt to integrate traditional teaching models with online learning systems. In most cases, this is not an easy thing to do, because of the obvious incompatibilities between these two learning systems. Blended learning models were developed to address this particular problem in a way that meets the needs of not only the trainees, but of their organization as well.