Mariam Moutaoukil
Ontario Tech University


Technology has revolutionized the field of education, and the importance of adopting it into mainstream school curricula cannot be ignored. Using new technologies in the academic field has become more prevalent in today’s world; simply keeping them as supplementary materials is a thing of the past. One such use of technology, online classrooms, are potentially powerful environments where innovative practices and new relationships can be created that can have a significant impact on learning. In order to maximize the potential that this instructional approach creates in education, instructors need to be trained on how to use technology in a meaningful way, as well as how to organize and deliver their material using methods that most effectively harness the power of this approach.

Traditional learning and online learning can be used together to create blended learning. As technology becomes more and more readily accessible, the art of mixing online learning with traditional learning to create blended learning has transformed the landscape of many classrooms over the years. Blended learning has the capability to provide more effective and flexible ways of delivering knowledge to students. The nature of this method provides it with the ability to address various learning preferences of students as well as have the capability to meet all their learning needs. This paper aims to explore how blended learning has impacted students by looking into its history, some theoretical frameworks that support blended learning, and examples of successful implementations of effective blended learning environments. It also concludes with several areas of research still needed to fully understand the complete potential that blended learning has.


blended learning, constructivism, student-centered learning, traditional learning

Introduction: What is Blended Learning?

Educational institutions are embracing digital devices to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Students are immersed in technology every day, and due to recent advancements, the learning process has evolved with it. As schools around the world gain access to technology, a shift has occurred towards incorporating that technology into education (Alijani, Kwun & Yu, 2014). With access to technology, one of the biggest shifts in the classroom has been to move away from traditional learning to blended learning. Researchers Schaber, Marsh, and Brooks (2010) state that this shift represents a disruption to learning as we have known it up to this point.

Traditional learning refers to instruction organized around the face-to-face interaction of teachers and students within the four walls of the classroom, where both parties are present at the same point in time (Nortvig, Peterson & Balle, 2018). Online learning, on the other hand, usually involves learning that takes place purely via web-based platforms, so that students can learn anywhere, at any time, and at whatever speed they choose (Nortvig et. al, 2018).

So blended learning, as defined by Lalima and Dangwal (2017), is a mixture of the two, with the inclusion of indirect instruction and collaborative teaching. Blended learning−sometimes called hybrid learning−is when, between thirty to eighty percent of the course’s content is delivered online, in addition to some face-to-face interaction (McDaniel, 2022). Musawi (2011) states that blended learning integrates three key factors – student needs, computing access, and student preference for online learning – to create an environment that combines the best attributes of both traditional and online learning. Wang et al. add that blended learning also involves the utilization of various learning theories which subsequently help maximize the effectiveness of instruction. The following video by Meria G. (2017, March 17) offers an “exploration of Blended Learning using examples from classrooms in various age groups and content areas.”

(Meria G, 2017, March 17)

The purpose of this paper is to explore the types of impacts that blended learning can have on students, as well as any implications that a shift from traditional teaching methods may have.

Background Information

History and Benefits of Blended Learning

When online learning was first introduced in the 1990s, there was a widespread belief that it had the potential to completely replace traditional learning. Because of the economic feasibility of online education, school administrators of the time began pushing their teachers to offer online courses. Unfortunately, online learning did not take off as anticipated, since learning itself was still a passive activity, and it struggled to catch on (Schaber et al., 2010).

However, as time went on, curriculums began to emerge where the strengths of both traditional and online learning were combined together to form a new method, blended learning. Haijian et al.  (2011) have discovered that combining off and online work is ideal, as opposed to using one or the other solely. In recent years, developments in blended learning have led to an increase in students, a change in the structure of the learning experience, and a shift in student motivation.

The continuous study of blended learning over the years has found that it has the potential to achieve an effective − and much needed − restructuring of the educational system. Alijani et al. (2013) explain that this is due to the fact that blended learning generates more opportunities for students to receive individualized, one-on-one instruction, on a regular basis, as well as enabling credit recovery and advanced placement opportunities for students who are in need of them. Additionally, the use of virtual environments in blended learning allows unlimited, remote access to learning, where students can attend classes or training anywhere without having to travel to a specific location. Classes/training are no longer limited to being held in certain spaces or at specific locations.

For example, educators can provide their students with foundational material to learn or read up on before class, thereby providing ample time during class to be devoted to active learning exercises like case-based discussions, automated response system questions, and think-pair share sessions. Blended-learning environments can result in improved student outcomes and facilitate the acquisition of competencies that may not otherwise be possible, combining the strengths of computer-mediated instruction (such as dynamic digital interfaces, embedded assessments, data analytics, and self-paced learning) with the benefits of face-to-face instruction (e.g., engagement by faculty members and peers) (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004).  Using the method of blended learning has been proven to enhance student engagement in the learning process, foster critical thinking, and improve learning outcomes (Pierce & Fox, 2012).

Underlying Learning Theories

Due to its nature, blended learning can address various learning preferences of students and meet all their learning needs, making it quite easy to identify various learning theories that can be aligned with blended learning.


The efficacy of blended learning with regard to improvement in student learning outcomes can be attributed to constructivism, a theory that sees knowledge as a dynamic and ever-evolving process shaped by interactions of learners with others and their environment. The constructivist approach emphasizes the use of active learning to engage students in the teaching process through meaningful activities that promote reflection on their ideas and experiences, learn how to self-assess their knowledge, master the gathering of information, and apply it to solving problems. The theory also stresses the importance of providing students with information resources and tools that they can access before class to facilitate independent self-paced learning and an opportunity for self-assessment (Jonassen, 1999).

Figure 1

Student-Centered Blended Learning

Figure 1: Student Centered Blended Learning

Anderson’s Online Learning Model

A model that has been developed to enhance the practice of e-learning is Anderson’s Online Learning Model, which combines the theories of collaboration, inquiry, and learning community. It emphasizes the importance of not relying on traditional learning when integrating technology into the classroom, and to remember that technology itself is not improving student learning and motivation, but rather the affordances that it allows (Anderson, 2008). Technology, according to Shank (1993), allows students to explore meaning for themselves by guiding their own learning. Anderson (2008, p. 47) describes learner-centered contexts as meeting “the needs of the teacher, the institution, and of the larger society that provides support for the student, the institution, and often for a group or class of students, as well as for the particular needs of individual learners.”

Figure 2

Anderson’s Online Learning Model

Figure 2: Anderson's Online Learning Model

Collis and Moonen’s Flexible Learning Approach

This is a model that has been developed for the implementation of blended learning as described by Beres et al. (2012). Collis and Moonen (2002) use the flexible learning method of learning where students are given the freedom in what, when, where, and how they learn. They state that there are five dimensions of flexibility: location, forms of communication, program, study material, and types of interaction, and they present a series of practical guidelines on integrating their model with technology for blended learning. The following video from the University of British Columba (2013, July 18) shows what flexible learning looks like from a student’s perspective.

University of British Columbia (2013, July 18)


To reap the benefits of blended learning, instructors must create an interactive, supportive, and collaborative learning environment. In 2010, the U.S Department of Education released a meta-analysis on the subject, and their findings revealed that it was not online learning that was superior as a medium, but rather the combination of all the elements that produced learning advantages. Alijani et al. (2014) emphasize the importance of student engagement in the learning process and claim that their learning is maximized when they are given the opportunity to be actively involved in their learning. Meaningful learning is not likely to occur if students are not active participants but merely passive recipients of information.

Developing an Effective Curriculum

In Olejarczuk’s article (2014) on blended learning, he provides a model that outlines three steps on how to prepare for an effective blended learning curriculum. The first step is how to plan the course. There are several considerations that need to be made in this step ─ which parts of the course will be offered online, and which will not, the types of assessments used to measure student understanding, the benefits of using blended learning over traditional learning, the types of online resources that would need to be available to students, and how scaffolding will be placed to support students to help them achieve success in a blended classroom. Step two is designing, preparing, and developing the necessary materials while maintaining a balance between face-to-face and online components. This would be the time to plan the different materials, resources, etc. that will be used in class to cater to the various learning needs and preferences of students. The third and final step is uploading the online materials to the selected online platform. Olejarczuk emphasizes the importance of developing clearly defined expectations of students as well as a form of communication that would allow for questions from students to be answered in a timely manner.

Student Preferences and Learning Needs.

Beres, Magyar, and Turcsanyi-Szabo (2012) designed a model called the CECIP. They began the implementation of their model by creating learner profiles for each student based on information obtained via surveys, observations, etc. on students’ learning styles, preferences, attitudes toward learning, and learning expectations. Giving students the option to choose between more traditional and more technology-based learning modes is one way of taking student preferences into consideration. The use of new technologies in blended learning allows students to gain experience based on their preferences, enhance their life skills, and develop emotionally and physically (Lalima & Dangwal, 2017). According to Lalima and Dangwal (2017), the student-centered nature of effective blended learning models encourages student engagement by presenting them with new perspectives, new cultures, and a wider range of opportunities for learning.

Conclusions and Future Recommendations

By combining classroom and online learning, students not only have additional opportunities to interact with each other and with teachers but also gain access to other people through online platforms. An increase in collaboration and communication skills leads to a sense of community, where learners feel connected to and develop trust in their teachers and peers. Both Beres et al. (2012) and Nortvig et al. (2018), state that blended learning has the potential to create meaningful, student-centered learning communities when it is implemented properly.

There is still further research that needs to be conducted to explore the various other topics pertaining to blended learning, such as its impact on ethnic demographics (Kassner, 2013), financial impacts on districts (Alijani et al., 2014), and the impact of the flexibility of blended learning on school schedules, calendars, and classrooms (Musawai, 2011).

Students, teachers, and districts can all benefit from blended learning, and it has the potential to completely transform teaching and learning. Despite the fact that there are still numerous areas to explore regarding this topic, there appears to be a solid foundation of resources and research that teachers can use to embrace and implement blended learning into their classrooms and curriculums.


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Technology and the Curriculum: Summer 2022 Copyright © 2022 by mariammoutaoukil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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