Blending Tech and Tutoring to Help Students

What are the Benefits of Blended Learning? | DMI

Blending Tech and Tutoring to Help Students

Blended learning, which mixes traditional face-to-face education with technology, has become increasingly popular in educational institutions over the years. This style of learning provides a way for faculty to engage students through visuals and online interaction.

In fact, 77% of academic leaders claim that online education is either the same or superior to face-to-face education and can be executed for a fraction of the cost.

So, how can blended learning benefit faculty and students a?

Benefits to faculty

Change can be difficult, especially for faculty who have taught using traditional methods for years. But, as blended learning becomes more commonplace in educational institutions, the benefits are becoming more obvious – making the adoption rate higher.

1. Track and improve engagement

Blended learning provides the opportunity to make a clear roadmap for students, such as what is expected of each student and requirements to reach the final goal — or grade —are.

With blended learning, teachers can visualize and track each student's progress.

This process can make it easier to identify signs of a student struggling or educational strengths and act upon them accordingly.

For instance, educators can analyze metrics to see what programs and modules students are engaging with. By understanding where each student’s passion lies, it becomes easier to cater to and adjust to each student’s learning behaviors. If students are falling behind, it becomes easier for an instructor to identify the issue, and step in earlier.

Take the Commonwealth Connections Academy as an example. By pulling reports from their online learning platform instructors could analyze test scores, course activities and portfolio assignments.

If a student is falling behind in a particular area, they are advised to attend a drop-in center which gives students extra face-to-face time with their instructor.

Teachers and students agree that the center is a useful way to zero in on a student’s learning barriers and provide custom instruction for improvement. Sometimes the solutions are as simple as providing better organizational skills.

2. Enhance communication

Young people today are growing up with more technology than ever. We’ve already seen shifts in communication patterns, starting with millennials. Observing a generation who became saturated in the digital world can show how communication is evolving.

A study from LivePerson, found that in the US and the UK, about 75% of internet users surveyed said rather than communicating in person, they were more ly to communicate digitally via:

  • Email
  • Text message
  • Social media

The findings may be an indicator that blended learning, which has an emphasis on technology, reaches students better than traditional methods.

By catering to a student’s preferred method of communication, online forums can connect lecturers with students more effectively.

3. Enables edtech

By combining new technology AR and VR with traditional education methods, students are getting a more inclusive learning experience.

A study by EdTechReview shows that AR and VR technology has mass appeal, too. Consumers value AR products 33% higher than non-AR offerings.

Google Expeditions and Titans of Space are two great examples of AR and VR in the classroom. Both provide virtual field trips tours of the solar system to improve science lessons. These adventures are both engaging and valuable ways to teach.

The growth of edtech means that teaching online is becoming more effective and easier.

4. Personalization

In the U.S. the student-to-teacher ratio has risen to nearly 30 students per teacher. With class sizes this large, it can be difficult to personalize lessons or understand the individual needs of each student.

Blended learning provides the opportunity to change this.

Student-centric, blended learning makes it easier to individualize learning modules competency. Students within one classroom can move at different paces, and teachers can see more easily, which students either express more interest in a particular area or show the need for extra attention in a particular subject.

5. Reduces cost

Blended learning saves educators money in several ways. For instance:

  1. Repurposing content decreasing and money spent for course preparation.
  2. Virtual tutoring can help to eliminate employee and venue costs.

A paper by the Fordham Institute found that national average for per-pupil costs for traditional learning in K-12 was about $10,000

Virtual schools costs were $5,500 to $7,100 per student, while blended learning costs started at $7,600. Rates could rise to around $10,200 per student depending on how much face-to-face education is emphasized in the plan.

By implementing blended learning strategically, an institution could reduce costs by nearly 50%.

Benefits to students

Faculty members aren’t the only ones to benefit from blended learning. Perhaps more importantly, students are given a more comprehensive educational experience that can boost retention and engagement.

1. Peer support

In Aspden and Helm’s study 'Making the connection in a blended learning environment', they found that online communication, through a blended learning environment, improved social aspects of students. Specifically, they stated that blended learning allowed students to make and maintain connections with other students, and their learning institution, even when off campus.

By offering online discussions in real time, or in an asynchronous model discussion boards or chat rooms, open dialogue is always accessible. The consistency of conversation enables a 24/7, community-style support system which means continuous peer support.

2. Easy access and flexibility

By having resources online, students can access material with no constraints including schedule conflicts.

Online materials can be found on smartphones, tablets, and desktops which is technology we’re already using, daily. In fact, GlobalWebIndex found that on a typical day, internet users ages 18 to 34 spend 3 hours, 38 minutes surfing the web via their smartphones alone.

Additionally, many students in the United States fail to complete school. As many as 7% of high school students drop out before graduation. Worse still, nearly half of the students who start college don’t finish within six years.

One conclusion is that the majority of students who start college and don’t finish are part-time enrollments, which can suggest that students are juggling study with work and personal commitments. Because blended learning platforms are available at any time, it is convenient for those who are trying to complete schooling while taking on other responsibilities working or parenting.

3. Enhanced retention

Blended learning may have the ability to teach students more effectively than traditional face-to-face schooling.

The English department at Long Island University (LIU) Brooklyn is currently testing blended learning as a way to improve retention for their students.

To begin, LIU offered iPads for all its incoming students. The hope is that by incorporating technological components into their lessons, it will help change the way students think about their writing.

The data LIU has collected, though mostly qualitative, is starting to paint the picture that blended learning has a positive impact on retention. Other studies indicate that learning online can increase retention rates from between 25-60% compared to only 8-10% for face-to-face learning.

4. Increased satisfaction and effectiveness

Students today prefer to have a variety of ways to learn. As digital natives, many young students are familiar with an online environment and actually prefer it. The varied formats of education also serve a purpose outside of student entertainment and satisfaction; it also may be a more effective way for students to learn, too.

Blended learning encourages self-learning, where students are forced to look for information online independently, rather than just sitting in a classroom setting and relying on a lecturer.

In the book Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education, the authors argue that blended learning is effective because un the traditional lecture-based teaching model, blended learning opens classroom time to focus on more active and meaningful activities which can lead to improved effectiveness.

5. Boosts soft skills

Soft skills or skills that are required in the workplace for professional success are naturally fostered in an online learning space.

Specifically, skills relating well to others, time management, critical thinking and team cooperation are nurtured in a blended model.

A study published by Elsevier tested a group of calculus students to see how a blended learning model impacted soft skills. The conclusion of their study was that the ability to communicate via email or online improved participation.

And that because students were actively discussing and vocalizing their understanding of concepts, blended learning helped build confidence and success.

It was concluded that communication skills changed favorably with a blended learning course.

It's clear that blended learning provides new ways for educators to engage and connect with students.

With falling enrollments and the challenge of the digital landscape putting pressure on systems, faculty and syllabus, introducing blended learning could help tap inot a new cohort of students and create a new revenue stream.


12 Different Types of Blended Learning

Blending Tech and Tutoring to Help Students

by TeachThought Staff

Blended Learning is not so much an innovation as it is a natural by-product of the digital domain creeping into physical spaces.

Broadly speaking, blended learning just means a mix of learning online and face-to-face, which means it’s ly your students are already doing some form of blended learning and have for years. As digital and social media become more and more prevalent in the life of learners, it was only a matter of time before learning became ‘blended’ by necessity.

Finding The Model That Works For Your School, Classroom, And Students

In The Definition Of Blended Learning, we offered that ‘blended learning is a model that combines online and face-to-face learning spaces and experiences.’ Below, we identify and describe 12 different types of blended learning.

Obviously, there aren’t just 12. It could be argued that there are thousands of types of blended learning varying by content, scale, technology, learning spaces, etc.

The purpose of this post is to A) Explain the most commonly referred to types of blended learning as most educators know them and B) Help you think more about blended learning as a flexible concept that ideally empowers both teachers and students to improve learning outcomes so that you can C) Identify and adapt a blended learning model that’s right for your school, classroom, and students.

1. Station Rotation Blended Learning

Station-Rotation blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station. This model is most common in elementary schools because teachers are already familiar with rotating in centers and stations.

Similar to: Lab Rotation Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the fixed schedule that guides the ‘blending’

2. Lab Rotation Blended Learning

‘The Lab Rotation’ model of blended learning, similar to “Station Rotation,’ works by “allow(ing) students to rotate through stations on a fixed schedule…in a dedicated computer lab allow(ing) for flexible scheduling arrangements with teachers…enabl(ing) schools to make use of existing computer labs.”

Similar to: Station Rotation Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the use school computer labs in new ways

3. Remote Blended Learning(also referred to as Enriched Virtual)

In Enriched Virtual blended learning, the student’s focus is on completing online coursework while only meeting with the teacher intermittently/as-needed.

This approach differs from the Flipped Classroom model in the balance of online to face-to-face instructional time. In an Enriched Virtual blended learning model, students wouldn’t see/work with/learning from a teacher on a daily basis face-to-face but would in a ‘flipped’ setting.

Similar to: A mix of Self-Directed, Flex Blended Learning, Flipped Classroom

Primarily characterized by: students completely coursework remotely and independently.

4. Flex Blended Learning

The ‘Flex’ is included in types of Blended Learning and its model is one in which… “a course or subject in which online learning is the backbone of student learning, even if it directs students to offline activities at times. Students move on an individually customized, fluid schedule among learning modalities.

The teacher of record is on-site, and students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments.

The teacher of record or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring.”

Similar to: Remote blended learning, Inside-Out Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: its versatility to meet the needs of a variety of formal and informal learning processes (schools, organizations, homeschooling, etc.)

5. The ‘Flipped Classroom’ Blended Learning

Perhaps the most widely known version of blended learning, a ‘Flipped Classroom’ is one where students are introduced to content at home, and practice working through it at school supported by a teacher and/or peers. In this way, traditional roles for each space are ‘flipped.’

Similar to: Remote Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the retention of traditional learning forms in new contexts (i.e., studying at school and learning at home)

6. Individual Rotation Blended Learning

The Individual Rotation model allows students to rotate through stations, but on individual schedules set by a teacher or software algorithm. Un other rotation models, students do not necessarily rotate to every station; they rotate only to the activities scheduled on their playlists.”

Similar to: Mastery-Based Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the personalization of student learning as determined by individual schedules that have the chance to better meet the needs of each student

7. Project-Based Blended Learning

Blended Project-Based Learning is a model in which the student uses both online learning—either in the form of courses or self-directed access—and face-to-face instruction and collaboration to design, iterate, and publish project-based learning assignments, products, and related artifacts.

Similar to: Self-Directed Blended Learning, Outside-In Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the use of online resources to support project-based learning

8. Self-Directed Blended Learning

In Self-Directed blended learning, students use a combination of online and face-to-face learning to guide their own personalized inquiry, achieve formal learning goals, connect with mentors physically and digitally, etc. As the learning is self-directed, the roles of ‘online learning’ and physical teachers change, and there are no formal online courses to complete.

In Self-Directed blended learning, one challenge for teachers is to be able to judge the and (somehow) success of the learning experience without de-authenticating it.

For students, the challenge is to seek out models of products, processes, and potential that can provide the kind of spark that can sustain learning while being self-aware enough to know what’s working and why, and to make adjustments accordingly. Some students need very little to soar, while others need support through very clear pathways that they can guide themselves through with autonomy and self-criticism.

Similar to: Inside-Out Blending Learning, Project-Based Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: the exchange of traditional academic work for student-centered inquiry

9. Inside-Out Blended Learning

In Inside-Out blended learning, experiences are planned to ‘finish’ or ‘end up’ beyond the physical classroom, but still require and benefit from the unique advantages of both physical and digital spaces.

In both the Outside-In and Inside-Out models, the nature of the ‘online learning’ is less critical than the focus on platforms, spaces, people, and opportunity beyond the school walls. (The ‘online’ components could be self-directed inquiry and/or formal eLearning courses and curriculum.)

Because the learning pattern is ‘outward,’ Project-Based blended learning is an excellent example of the Inside-Out learning model.

As with Outside-In blended learning, there is a need for expert guidance, learning feedback, content teaching, and psychological and moral support from face-to-face interactions on a daily basis.

Well-designed, each of the three ‘areas’ plays to its strengths and complements the other two.

Similar to: Outside-In blended learning, Blended Project-Based Learning

Primarily characterized by: student movement between digital and physical spaces

10. Outside-In Blended Learning

In Outside-In blended learning, experiences are planned to ‘start’ in the non-academic physical and digital environments students use on a daily basis, but finish inside a classroom.

This could mean traditional letter grades and assessment forms, or less traditional teaching and learning that simply uses the classroom as a ‘closed-circuit’ publishing ‘platform’—a safe space to share, be creative, collaborate, and give and receive feedback that grows student work.

Well-designed, each of the three ‘areas’ plays to its strengths and complements the other two. While the pattern is Outside-In, un Remote blended learning there is still a need for guidance, teaching, and support from face-to-face interactions on a daily basis.

Similar to: Inside-Out Blended Learning

Primarily characterized by: student movement between digital and physical spaces; the potential authenticity of student work

11. Supplemental Blended Learning 

In this model, students complete either entirely online work to supplement their day-to-day face-to-face learning, or entirely face-to-face learning experiences to supplement the learning gained in online courses and activities.

The big idea here is supplementing—critical learning objectives are met entirely in one space while the ‘opposite’ space provides the student with specific supplementing experiences that the other did not or could not provide.

12. Mastery-Based Blended Learning

Students rotate between online and face-to-face learning (activities, assessments, projects, etc.) the completion of mastery-based learning objectives.

Assessment design is crucial in any mastery-based learning experience; the ability to use face-to-face and digital assessment tools is either powerful or ‘complicated’ depending on the mindset of the learning designer.

*Sources include TeachThought, the Christensen Institute and


Creating meaningful learning experiences with technology

Blending Tech and Tutoring to Help Students

(9th September 2020) – Amy McDowell, Content Specialist

On August 18 – 20, we hosted a virtual conference called ‘Design and Delivery in the Blending Learning Jungle. Over the course of three days and more than 16 hours of sessions on Writing, STEM and Reading, there was a lot of information for our attendees to take in.

With a focus on helping teachers prepare for remote or hybrid learning, many speakers talked about the right technology to engage students.

But, through these discussions, another important message emerged: no matter what technology you do (or don’t) use, teachers must ensure that learning remains meaningful.

While technology can help facilitate teaching and learning, making it meaningful is up to the teacher. As Vicki Davis from CoolCatTeacher shared in her closing keynote: “Do what you do best and let technology do what it does best”. 

Technology can’t replace the understanding that teacher’s have of individual students and their unique needs, interests, challenges or goals.

That relationship between teacher and student is what creates meaningful learning experiences. But technology, used correctly, can lend a helping hand, especially while learning remotely.

Here are three tips to create meaningful learning experiences with technology. 

Not all technology is created equal

The first tip is to understand that technology can provide different levels of value or meaning depending on how you use it. During Amy Mayer’s session on providing feedback with Google tools, she highlighted the importance of using EdTech purposefully.

For example, when providing students with digital feedback, Amy has a choice. She can use technology to type a comment on the student's paper.

But the problem with that is she’s just replacing one process that wasn’t really working (handwritten comments that were often ignored by students) with the same process, just in digital form. Instead, she prefers using technology to enhance the feedback.

Through voice notes, Amy can connect with students on a more personal, direct level – especially when they’re not in the classroom. 

When selecting and using tools, it’s important to question what value they’re adding to your instruction and to the students’ overall learning experience. We think Erica Mark’s suggestion on using the SAMR model to help guide teachers in their use of technology, both in and the classroom, is a great place to get started. 

Teach students, not content

The second tip to create meaningful learning with technology is to go back to your original goal as a teacher.

During her session on ‘The Four F’s of Distance Learning’, Tinashe Blanchet highlighted that a teacher’s role is more than simply being a context expert: “We teach students, not content.

” Or as our writing keynote Shaelynn Farnsworth put it, “Teach the writer, not the writing”. 

Through these messages, attendees were reminded that it’s not what they’re teaching that matters most or even what tools they’re using for instruction. What matters is the individual students, each of whom are on their own learning journeys. What’s more, this refocus on the student can help you determine what tools you need to better support your students’ learning.

This was demonstrated by Jim Monti, Director of Educational Reform, Compliance and Technology at West Warwick Public Schools (RI), who shared his district’s experience with technology.

He showcased how his district changed the way they approached reading assessment and intervention by thinking of their students as readers, not numbers.

Due to this mind shift, they were able to find the right technology to support them in their commitment to help struggling readers reach their full potential. 

Make learning authentic 

The final tip is to make sure that the learning is authentic. If you use technology to create authentic experiences, you can provide students with meaning and greater purpose for their work. 

Tinashe summed it up nicely when asked how to keep kids accountable during this time of remote learning, “We need to shift our focus away from accountability to authentic learning”, even when we're back to “normal”. Learning shouldn’t be about checking the boxes. It should be about helping students prepare for challenges and opportunities they’ll find in the real world.

Jose Vilson explored the techniques he uses to teach authentically during his keynote on creating equity in the math classroom, highlighting the difference between schooling and an education. 

For Jose, math frameworks can help teach students about so much more than just math. By understanding his students and providing context to his teaching, Jose is able to create relevance for students, help them engage more meaningfully in what they’re learning, and create an environment where they can explore and grow.


With most teachers and students already back to school, we know that your own development and progress as an educator doesn’t stop at the end of Summer! So we want to leave you with another quote from Vicki Davis, “Innovate a turtle and level up everyday!” 

Let us know some of the ways you’re using technology to create meaningful learning experiences for your students this year by leaving us a comment below.


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