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What is blended learning? 

Education hasn’t looked the same since the pandemic as new approaches and innovations make their way into classrooms around the world. One of those approaches, which remains quite popular and effective today, is blended learning. The definition of blended learning is difficult to encapsulate, but this explanation (from Wikipedia, of all places) sums it up well: “Blended learning, also known as hybrid learning, technology-mediated instruction, web-enhanced instruction, or mixed-mode instruction, is an approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with physical place-based classroom methods.” 

As a concept, blended learning has actually existed for decades, starting in the 1960s with corporate and higher education. The term “blended learning” wasn’t coined until 1999, however, when the American Interactive Learning Center launched software programs designed for teaching over the internet. Blended learning truly took off during the 2020-21 school year, however, as schools began to reopen post-COVID. The blended, or hybrid, model helped students and school staff ease back into a more traditional education approach following the fully remote instruction that took place during the latter part of the 2019-2020 school year. This blended model involved a combination of online work, remote and in-person instruction, and textbook learning. 

What is a blended learning approach? 

As previously stated, a blended learning approach uses digital and/or online components combined with face-to-face instruction. It would be rare to find a school today that doesn’t employ a blended learning approach, which often involves using online tools such as Google Classroom, Khan Academy, Quizlet, Kahoot!, Duolingo, BrainPop, and many others. These tools supplement face-to-face instruction with learning activities, practice quizzes, educational games, and online instruction that students can take on their computers, tablets, or even phones. While this online learning is not a substitute for in-person classes and instruction, it reinforces key concepts and encourages practice of the material learned in school. 

What are the key aspects of blended learning? 

Blended learning can take on many forms and be implemented in several ways. But the most effective blended learning programs share some key aspects. 

  • Face-to-face instruction: Face-to-face teaching, while traditionally performed in a brick-and-mortar classroom, isn’t limited to that setting. This type of instruction can also be accomplished remotely via live class sessions. The most obvious example would be the virtual learning students participated in over Zoom during the early stages of the pandemic. 
  • Digital learning: Another key component of blended learning is the digital aspect. Digital learning can be done online or with videos, audio recordings, and the various apps and programs that are available to students today. 
  • Student responsibility: There is certainly a sense of independence involved with blended learning, and the onus is often on students to take control of where, when, and how they learn outside the classroom—especially pertaining to digital learning. This component can help students become more independent and own their education. 
  • Integration of learning: If the face-to-face instruction and digital learning do not complement or build off one another, blended learning will not work. These types of learning must converge and align with common goals to get the most out of this method. 

When all these aspects are in place, blended learning can be quite effective. 

How is financial literacy taught? 

Interestingly, the nation’s overall financial illiteracy has forced action to be taken at a legislative level. As of August 2023, nearly half the states in the country require students to take a financial literacy course before graduating from high school. Oregon recently became the 23rd state, and among the remaining 27 states, only Alaska, California, Wyoming, and Washington, DC have no financial literacy requirements. 

How each state—as well as each school district within each state—teaches financial literacy is up to them. However, the National Council for Economic Education has identified six critical topic areas in their personal finance standards: 

  • Earning income: This topic focuses on income earned or received and the taxes assessed on income, the different ways that people earn income, methods of payment, how income is taxed by government to pay for community services, costs of investments in education and skills, taxes on earnings, benefits and costs of entrepreneurship, making career decisions by better understanding career paths, wage and salary compensation, employee benefits, and more. 
  • Spending: This topic looks at the concepts of scarcity, preferences, and trade-offs that people make in their spending decisions; behavioral factors that influence spending, such as peer pressure and advertising; budgeting and planning; the factors involved in making informed consumer decisions; making spending decisions within a budget; and more. 
  • Saving: This focuses on how people save money, where they save it, and why they save it; emergency funds; short-term investment choices; interest and compound interest; saving decisions related to personal goals; the role of financial institutions in saving and borrowing; federal deposit insurance; how inflation impacts savings; how markets determine interest rates; types of savings accounts; financial regulation; tax incentives for saving; and more. 
  • Investing: This topic looks at rate of return, compound interest, long-term/riskier investment choices, types of income earned from investments, compound interest, factors influencing market prices of financial assets, portfolio diversification, regulation of financial markets, and the benefits of financial technology. 
  • Managing credit: This topic covers borrowing money, the cost of credit, the possible effects on a person’s finances, previous history of debt repayment, interest rates, market conditions, borrower risk, credit reports, the difference between borrowing for consumer purchases and borrowing to invest in education or homes, how to develop credit management skills, what contributes to strong credit reports and scores, consumer credit protections, and resources available to people who need assistance with debts. 
  • Managing risk: This focuses on the ways wealth, property, and income can be lost due to unexpected events; how to manage these risks; the basics of insurance, including common terminology and how behavior can affect premiums; personal decision making; the costs and benefits of common types of insurance, including health, auto, homeowners/renters, disability, and life insurance; identity theft; and more. 

When students are armed with this knowledge prior to high school graduation, they are better equipped to manage their finances and avoid falling into the paycheck-to-paycheck trap that has ensnared so many adults. 

What are examples of blended learning? 

One of the benefits of blended learning is the wide range of options educators can present to their students. Here are a few examples of what blended learning might look like in a classroom. 

  • A student takes an online course followed by face-to-face tutoring between lessons. 
  • A school uses part-time remote learning and part-time face-to-face, in-person learning. 
  • Students meet in class to collaborate on a project, then communicate via messaging apps or text to plan their work. They also use file-sharing services like Google Docs to collaborate and share feedback. 
  • After in-person instruction, students are assigned homework, which they complete and submit online. 

Again, any type of combination of in-person instruction and online learning can be considered blended learning. How that looks and is executed is entirely up to the school and instructor. 

What are the main models of blended learning? 

Blended learning can take on many forms, but most blended learning takes place within these commonly used models. 

  1. Flipped classroom model. With the flipped classroom model, rather than learning lessons first, students learn the content outside of class through videos, texts, or online modules. After this takes place, students spend time in class discussing what they learned and/or working on projects or exercises designed to reinforce and apply what was previously learned. The benefit of the flipped classroom is that it encourages more interactive and individualized learning during face-to-face sessions and allows students to work at their own pace. 
  1. Rotational model. In the rotational model, students rotate between different learning formats, including face-to-face instruction, online activities, small-group discussions, and independent study. This model provides flexibility and works with various learning styles, allowing students to work in the format best suited for them. 
  1. Flex model. This model gives students the most control over their learning and encourages self-paced learning by giving them the opportunity to choose when and where they access online resources and content. Of course, teachers are always available to help when needed. 
  1. Face-to-face driver model. This model most resembles traditional classroom learning, with much of the instruction coming in the classroom by a teacher. Face-to-face driver blended learning is especially beneficial for students who are struggling with new concepts or falling behind in school because it offers more individualized support. 
  1. Enriched virtual model. While the face-to-face driver model most resembles traditional classroom instruction, the enriched virtual model is the closest to a fully online learning experience. Most instruction in this model comes in a virtual environment, though students also periodically attend in-person classes to work on activities, take tests, and/or collaborate on projects. 

Catapult Learning’s blended learning model 

Catapult Learning offers an engaging, personalized blending learning experience that seamlessly incorporates technology with our traditional teacher-led intervention programs. Our blended learning model starts with direct instruction, including technology sessions, and students then further their learning through guided instruction and practice. Assessments allow us to evaluate student performance and adapt and personalize instruction based on the analysis of results. 

With our Instructor-Coach Rotational Model, a highly trained Catapult Learning teacher facilitates learning and provides one-on-one tutoring. The model comprises: 

  • Direct Instruction: Teacher as a Coach – Teacher establishes the goals for the day and ensures students are set up for technology-driven instruction. 
  • Guided Instruction: Technology Scaffolds – New concepts are introduced through scaffolded, technology-based instruction. 
  • Guided Practice: Student Works with Technology – Student tries out learning with assistance as needed from the technology. 
  • Independent Practice: Student Works Independently with Technology – Personalized skill practice and application. 

Catapult offers both a partially blended learning model and a fully blended learning model. 

Our partially blended learning model includes: 

  • 60%-70% direct small-group instruction/30%-40% technology-assisted programming 
  • Student participation in direct instruction and guided practice with a Catapult Learning teacher and a small group of students, plus a technology-based program used for individualized independent practice 
  • Small-group, interactive, collaborative learning for most of the lesson cycle 
  • Technology that provides individual practice at the student’s ability level, with engaging and motivating rewards for completing work 

Our fully blended learning model features: 

  • 50% direct small-group instruction/50% technology-assisted programming 
  • Two student engagements in the entire lesson: 
  • One with a Catapult Learning teacher and a small group of students 
  • One individually, working with the personalized learning system