Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-17, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 7 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2017.


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Blended learning

core definition

Blended learning is a flexible approach that combines face-to-face teaching/learning with remote (usually internet-based) learning.

explanatory context

Blended learning has similarities with distributed learning that comes from distributed education.


Blended learning is sometimes called hybrid learning.

analytical review

New South Wales Department of Education and Training (2002) provides a simple definition:

Blended Learning is learning which combines online and face-to-face approaches.


Kurtus (2004) states:

Blended learning is a mixture of the various learning strategies and delivery methods that will optimize the learning experience of the user. Classroom training sessions, Computer-Based Training (CBT) via a CD-ROM, Web-Based Training (WBT) can be combined as a way to train the learners. WBT can be on demand or at a specific time with an instructor and other students involved.


According to Reid-Young (undated):

Blended learning is simply a flexible approach to learning delivery that recognises the benefits of delivering some training and assessments online, but also uses other modes to make up a complete training delivery service. These other modes may range from classroom sessions to mentoring arrangements, or the support of a subject matter expert in the same office or area.


Rovai and Jordan (2004) note:

According to Colis and Moonen (2001), blended learning is a hybrid of traditional face-to-face and online learning so that instruction occurs both in the classroom and online, and where the online component becomes a natural extension of traditional classroom learning. Blended learning is thus a flexible approach to course design that supports the blending of different times and places for learning, offering some of the conveniences of fully online courses without the complete loss of face-to-face contact. The result is potentially a more robust educational experience than either traditional or fully online learning can offer.


Smith (2004) suggests:

Blended learning is a fairly new term in education lingo, but the concept has been around for decades. Essentially, blended learning is defined as a method of educating at a distance that uses technology (high-tech, such as television and the Internet or low-tech, such as voice mail or conference calls) combined with traditional (or, stand-up) education or training.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) (undated) defines blended learning as:

A method of educating that uses e-learning techniques, such as online delivery through the web, discussion boards and e-mail, combined with traditional face to face lectures, seminars, and tutorials.


The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA, undated) in the UK defines blended learning as:

Learning delivered by a number of different methods, usually including face-to-face and e-learning

The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) (2011), citing Horn and Staker (2011) states:

Blended learning Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; often used synonymously with Hybrid Learning.

associated issues

Course design

Rovai and Jordan (2004) suggest:

From a course design perspective, a blended course can lie anywhere between the continuum anchored at opposite ends by fully face-to-face and fully online learning environments. The face-to-face component can be either on the main university campus or the professor can travel to a remote site in order to meet with students. Martyn (2003) described a successful blended learning model. It consists of an initial face-to-face meeting, weekly online assessments and synchronous chat, asynchronous discussions, e-mail, and a final face-to-face meeting with a proctored final examination.

            Dziuban and Moskal (2001) reported that blended courses at the University of Central Florida replaced face-to-face class time with online learning so that a three-hour course occupied only one hour of actual face-to-face classroom time. Such courses allowed the weekly operation of multiple classes in a classroom previously occupied by only one course, thus making more efficient use of existing university infrastructure. Moreover, they reported that blended courses, when compared to traditional courses, had equivalent or reduced student withdrawal rates as well as equivalent or superior student success rates.

            Voos (2003) suggested that it is unlikely that the blendedness makes the difference in such courses, but rather the fundamental reconsideration of course design in light of new instructional and media choices and the learning strengths and limitations of each. Joyce Neff (1998, p. 154), a professor of writing, found that teaching a blended course had profound effects on her teaching. She wrote: “[t]he ways I perceived and manipulated the medium, the ways I imagined the subjectivities of my students, and the ways intermediaries affected my authorities all influenced… my writing pedagogy”.     

            Privateer (1999, p. 72) summarized the direction needed with the following passage: ‘Opportunities for real change lie in creating new types of professors, new uses of instructional technology and new kinds of institutions whose continual intellectual self-capitalization continually assures their status as learning organizations’.


Smith (2004) argues that blended learning is widespread that:

If, for example, you have offered the following kinds of continuing education sessions, you are using the concepts of blended learning in your educational options:

·        Traditional workshops or seminars in conjunction with a teleconference feature

·        Traditional courses with a continuing e-mail connection or ongoing dialog with the participants

·        Traditional seminars with live television broadcasts to more than one site

·        Or any other similar combination of technology and traditional educational programming

Of course there are many other kinds of technology and traditional education/training options that can be used in a blended learning program.


Reid-Young (undated) suggests:

There are as many blended learning models as there are organisational challenges. You can blend your own mixture to meet the learning needs of the workforce, the monitoring and planning requirements of Learning and Development, and those management issues listed before. Combinations of e-learning and other modes can be developed to match the available technology, the distribution of the workforce and the availability of trainers.Here are some typical examples of blended learning – you may recognise some of them from other contexts.

            Course model: Learners complete a series of online modules that make up a course for certification. They are at remote locations, so they submit their assessment tasks by email to a tutor. An online forum provides for discussion of topics and shared feedback between learners and tutor. Periodically, if possible, they may meet as a group, ideally starting with a session where they can familiarise themselves with the format of the online material. If this is not possible, they may be “buddied” with another learner in their region and talk to their tutor by phone. This is a model often used by universities for distance learning.

            Reference-based learning: On-job training is supplemented by procedures manuals deployed on an intranet. Learners are assigned a regular program of online or written assessments to confirm that they are acquiring the knowledge they require during their induction and follow-up. The required knowledge includes the ability to navigate the intranet and locate relevant information. The author of the manuals also maintains contact with the learners either directly or through the training department to ensure that the documents provide the necessary support for the job.

            Pre-assessment: Learners of varying abilities complete an online pre-assessment to ascertain their level of knowledge in a certain area. Those assessed at a lower level may be nominated for a further online course to fill some of the information gaps. Once they have gained this pre-qualification, all the learners can be brought together in a face-to-face session that provides a forum for them to discuss their knowledge and practise their skills. This structure provides more targeted learning experiences for all levels of experience, and also gives meaning to the online tasks by making them stages in a process that will be practised and reviewed in the face-to-face session.


The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology (undated) states:

Blended learning often means different things to different people…The concept of "blending" grew out of the successes and failures of e-learning. Although some instruction is appropriate for online delivery, there are still many contexts in which it appears that learning is best served by some combination of classroom, Web-based training (WBT), synchronous online delivery, or other electronic resources.

            How do instructional designers figure out what is the right "blend" of instructional and delivery methods in a given situation? … a number of components [need] to be considered. Some of these are audience analysis, course content, learning objectives and outcomes, and situational context.  In addition, when considering technology delivery of instruction, it's best to determine whether there are any barriers to implementation. For instance, is there sufficient bandwidth? Is the organizational climate supportive of technology-based learning?...

            Each unique learning situation will require a fresh approach. However, the guidelines below can help designers determine whether what they are considering represents a truly blended solution.

Completely integrated instructional design

A blended solution works when all the instructional components are considered holistically. What is less successful, for instance, are e-learning modules just "bolted on" to existing instructor-led training. A plan for blended delivery should include conducting the up front analysis necessary, and ensuring the inclusion of these key components of successful instruction: interaction, instructional goals tied to performance, and learner engagement.

Each method delivering its best

Each delivery method should be chosen for what it can deliver best. For instance, online training can often effectively provide learners with factual knowledge about a specific skill.

            However, the content and desired learning outcome should determine whether the practice of that skill is appropriately accomplished online, or best done in a classroom or authentic context.

            Consider whether, in a given situation, performance support and online resources might be more effective than any type of instruction as a "blended solution."

Flexibility and Variety

The choice of whether to offer alternative delivery options for the same instruction, or combine delivery methods will depend on a number of factors. Learners can often benefit from multiple delivery methods that accomplish the same learning objective. Barriers to access are eliminated, and learners have more choice in how they learn.

Extending the experience

Blended learning is a continuous process, rather than just a "learning event." Providing blended solutions allows for flexibility, not only of multiple delivery methods, but for learning to take place over time.

            For instance, the timeline below shows how Web-based modules can offer "pre-work" preceding a classroom training event. Online peer communities or e-mentoring can extend well past the live event, along with Web resource availability for learners.


For and against blended learning

A debate about the pros and cons of blended learning can be found at

Example resource

An example of a resource is the free General Mathematics and Teaching Resources designed for college students intersted in teaching mathematics, available at (accessed 19 September 2012). See also Learning Light (accessed 19 September 2012).

related areas

See also

distance education

distributed education


Colis, B. and Moonen, J., 2001, Flexible Learning in a Digital World: Experiences and expectations (London: Kogan-Page).

Dziuban, C., and Moskal, P., 2001, ‘Evaluating distributed learning in metropolitan universities’, Metropolitan Universities, 12(1), 41–49.

Encyclopedia of Educational Technology, undated, Blended Learning: Choosing the Right Blend, Encyclopedia General Editor, Bob Hoffman. A publication of San Diego State University, Department of Educational Technology,, accessed April 2005, not available 4 February 2011.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 31 December 2016.

Horn, M. and Staker, H., 2011, The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning. Innosight Institute. available at, accessed 7 September 2011.

International Association for K-12 Online Learning, 2011, The Online Learning Definitions Project, October, available at, accessed 1 September 2012, page not available 31 December 2016.

Kurtus, R. 2004, Blended Learning, accessed 6 April, 2004, not available 4 February 2011.

Martyn, M., 2003, ‘The hybrid online model: good practice’, Educause Quarterly, 1, 18–23.

Neff, J., 1998, ‘From a distance: teaching writing on interactive television’, Research in the Teaching of Writing, 33(2), 136–57.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training, 2002, Learning technologies, Blended learning, , page not available 4 February 2011.       

Privateer, P.M., 1999, ‘Academic technology and the future of higher education: strategic paths taken and not taken’, The Journal of Higher Education, 70(1), 60–79.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 7 January 2017.

Reid-Young. A., undated, The key to e-learning is b-learning, HCi Professional Services,, accessed April 2005, not available 4 February 2011.

Rovai, A.P and Jordan, H.M., 2004, ‘Blended Learning and Sense of Community: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional and Fully Online Graduate Courses’, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, August 2004, ISSN: 1492-3831. Copyright © 2003 by Athabasca UniversityCanada's Open University.

Smith, J.M., 2004, Blended Learning: An old friend gets a new name. Executive on-line, The paper doesn't seem to be available. This address defaults to,

Voos, R., 2003, ‘Blended learning: What is it and where might it take us?’ Sloan-C View, 2(1), pp. 2–5.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2017

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