So I google Blended Learning and wikipedia, the fountain of all knowledge appears at the top of the list. May as well start there.
It would appear that the term “blended” is used in the context of mixing different approaches together when designing. Approaches can range from modes of delivery, to learning styles or even learning models. Addressing diversity seems to be well aligned with blended learning. Respecting diversity (“Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning”) is one of the 7 principles of good practice in undergraduate education by Chickering and Gamson. I can see that blended learning is a key approach to supporting this principle.
When I first asked someone the meaning of blended learning, it was a bit of an anti-climax. It was described to me in terms of diverse modes of delivery, or at least that was my interpretation. So why was this an anti-climax? It has become the hallmark of my education institution for many years. CQUniversity has a variety of delivery modes for students. We have traditional face-to-face classes, pseudo face-to-face in the form of live video-conferenced classes, and distance education.
So one definition for blended learning is the provision of multi-modal delivery to students. Our institution does this based on enrolment mode, however blended learning can be applied to all students of a class in such a way that more face-to-face instruction is provided in the early stages only to be slowly phased out in favour of online e-learning facilities as students competency levels increase.
Other definitions such as this and this from two groups of the New South Wales Government of Australia seem to define the blending as a hybrid of traditional face-to-face and online e-learning approaches used in combination. The face-to-face classes are supplemented by online activities to facilitate ongoing learning beyond the classroom. In fact, I have found many other descriptions that follow this line.
Well time is up. It is clear to see that blended learning is somewhat contextual and not a clearly defined term. Something definately worth another look to go deeper into this approach to design.