Blended learning trend watch: Most-practiced models

May 10, 2018 | by Jenny White

Teenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

If someone had to guess which blended-learning model schools implement the most, it may not be that difficult a choice. If your school is implementing blended learning, chances are your model(s) may fit under at least one of two categories: Station Rotation or Flex. Indeed, Station Rotation and Flex are the top two models reported in our Blended Learning Universe (BLU) directory of 640 schools and districts around the globe practicing blended learning. Overall, Station Rotation in particular is so popular that it accounts for over one-third of all blended programs in the directory.

chart (1)

[Disclaimer: Though this is not a nationally representative sample, the data we source from BLU’s directory can lend visibility into popular models and changes over time.]

Noteworthy observations from our data

By year: While over time Station Rotation and Flex have consistently held the number one and two spots, respectively, in our data set we have observed a shift in the third-most commonly used model since last year. Two years ago, more educators were using Lab Rotation but as of 2017 that model has been slightly eclipsed by Individual Rotation.

By community type: Also, practices seem to vary by community type. In urban schools, Station Rotation reigns supreme, followed by Flex and Lab Rotation. In the suburbs, however, Flex has a higher adoption rate than Station Rotation. And in rural schools, we see A La Carte follow Station Rotation and Flex to appear in the top three models used.
chart (2)

By subject: Subject areas vary as well. In both English language arts and math courses, Station Rotation is most often practiced. For world languages, however, Flex and Individual Rotation are more common. Flex is also the most popular choice for science instruction.

By duration of practice: Another significant factor affecting which models schools adopt is the amount of time a school has been practicing blended learning. For the first 0-3 years, Station Rotation, Flex and then Lab Rotation are the most popular forms of blended instruction. Among schools that have been blended for 3-5 years, Individual Rotation appears more popular than Lab Rotation.

Most interestingly, among the schools doing blended for 10 or more years (albeit in a relatively small sample size within our data set), we see that the top three models are Flex, Enriched Virtual, and Individual Rotation. Based on our research, all three of those models are disruptive, meaning they represent instances of online learning, while adding a brick-and-mortar component so as to improve for more-demanding users who need face-to-face services; in other words, these three models dispense with the traditional classroom as we know it. This observation makes sense when we consider that more radical departures from factory-model, whole-class instructional designs can take more time, more system-wide support, and more confidence with blended learning in general to achieve.chart (3)By age and grade level: Without a doubt, blended models vary quite a bit across student ages and grade levels. At kindergarten level, schools most commonly report using Station Rotation followed by Lab Rotation. For grades 1-5, Station Rotation, Lab Rotation, and Flex are the top three models. We see Lab Rotation drop down, though, in grades 6-8 where Individual Rotation is number three. And for high schools, Flex is the number one option, followed by Enriched Virtual, then Station Rotation, and close behind is A La Carte.

Do your blended model practices align with these trends, or are you paving a new way? In our research at the Christensen Institute and the Blended Learning Universe, we aim to keep learning about the blended learning models schools use, and more importantly, understand why certain models or practices work in particular circumstances and don’t in others. Regardless of the stage you’re at, we invite you to share your blended-learning journey, whether that be at the classroom-, school- or district-level, in a BLU profile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.