Blended Learning

What is Blended Learning?

Blending Learning is a teaching approach where both traditional face-to-face instructional time and online or computer-mediated activities are integrated. Within a course, the online content and classroom activities are meant to complement one another, working to engage students and achieve course objectives.

Blended Learning Spectrum

Blended learning is often referred to as a spectrum because there are many ways that it can be defined. Some definitions are more inclusive, while others are more detailed. Here are five of the commonly accepted and referred to definitions of blended learning.

York University
Ron Owston, Dennis York and Susan Murtha (2013) from York University, define blended learning as, "an instructional approach that substitutes online learning for a portion of the traditional face-to-face instructional time" (p. 38).

Garrison & Vaughan
In their 2008 book, Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines, Randy Garrison and Norm Vaughan define blended learning as, "the thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online learning experiences. That basic principle is that face-to-face oral communication and online written communication are optimally integrated such that the strengths of each are blended into a unique learning experience congruent with the context and intended educational purpose." (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p. 5). Later in the book, they also define it as, "the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies" (p. 148).

The Christensen Institute
The Christensen Institute, a non-profit think tank on disruptive innovation, defines blended learning as, "a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student's learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience" ("Blended learning model definitions", 2012).

University of Central Florida
Charles Dzuiban, Joel Hartman and Patsy Moskal (2004) at the University of Central Florida, an institution widely regarded as a leader in blended learning in North America, defines blended learning as "courses that combine face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning and reduced classroom contact hours (reduced seat time)... blended learning should be viewed as a pedagogical approach that combines the effectiveness and socialization opportunities of the classroom with the technologically enhanced active learning possibilities of the online environment, rather than a ratio of delivery modalities" (p. 2).

The Sloan Consortium
The Sloan Consortium, a leadership organization dedicated to integrating e-learning into mainstream higher education, defines blended learning as any course where between 30 percent and 79 percent of the course content is delivered online (Allen, Seaman & Garrett, 2007, p. 5).

Proportion of Content Delivered online Type of Course Typical Description
0% Traditional Course with no online technology used - content is delivered in writing or orally.
1 to 29% Web Facilitated Course which uses web-based technology to facilitate what is essentially a face-to-face course. Uses a course management system (CMS) or web pages to post the syllabus and assignments, for example.
30 to 79% Blended Hybrid Course that blends online and face-to-face delivery. Substantial proportion of the content is delivered online, typically uses online discussions, and typically has some face-to-face meetings.
80+% Online A course where most or all of the content is delivered online. Typically have no face-to-face meetings.

Models of Blended Learning


Allen, I.E., Seaman, J., & Garrett, R. (2007). Blending in: The extent and promise of blended education in the United States. Retrieved from:

Blended learning model definitions. (2012). Retrieved November 5, 2013 from:

Dzuiban, C., Hartman., J. & Moskal, P. (2004). Blended learning. EDUCAUSE Centre for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin. 2004(7), 1-12. Retrieved from:

Garrison, R. & Vaughan, N. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines. San Francisco: Josey-Bass.

Owston, R., York, D., & Murtha, S. (2013, July). Student perceptions and achievement in a university blended learning strategic initiative. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 38-46. Retrieved from