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Blended Learning

Student at laptop

Blended Learning may be the "new normal" for course delivery (Norberg, Dzuiban & Moskal, 2011. pg 207). 

At Waterloo we define blended courses as those that integrate face-to-face and online learning. Online and classroom activities and course materials are selected to complement each other, to engage students, and to achieve specified learning outcomes. Over 70% of courses offered on our campus have an online component in LEARN, our learning management system. 

Blending learning courses can: 

  • provide more flexibility with regard to when and where students choose to learn;
  • enhance learning by allowing the use of pedagogical strategies that are not possible without learning technologies;
  • transform how learning occurs by engaging students in the active construction of knowledge through dynamic interactions (Bonk & Graham, 2005).

There is evidence that students learn more effectively and have a higher satisfaction when courses are blended, as compared to online or traditional, face-to-face courses (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004).

Blended courses do not follow a single formula. Some use the online environment for content or lecture delivery and the classroom for active learning opportunities (sometimes known as the flipped classroom), whereas others use the face-to-face time for lectures and the online environment for discussions, assessments, or other learning activities. Some use a combination of these two approaches.

The term blended learning has a broad range of meanings in the current educational research literature, and institutions tend to use the term in a way that is useful in their own context (Graham, 2013). Blended courses may have reduced face-to-face time compared to “traditional” face-to-face courses. 


  • Bonk, C.J., & Graham, C.R. (2005). The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs. San Francisco, CA:Pfeiffer Publishing.
  • Garrison, D.R., & Kanuka, H.(2004) Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95–105.

  • Graham, C.R. (2013). In M.G. Moore (Ed). Handbook of Distance Education (pp 333-350). New York, NY:Routledge.
  • Norberg, A., Dzuiban, C. & Moskal, P.D. (2011).  A time-based blended learning model. On the Horizon, 19(3), 207-216. 

Photo used with the permission of Wolfgang Geller under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.