There is a big difference between online education, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and blended learning. For decades, students have been able to earn degrees online through for-profit institutions, such as the University of Phoenix. MOOCs are a relatively new spin on web-based learning that opens up classes to the masses, though usually not for credit. Blended learning, on the other hand, uses technology to enhance traditional learning environments.
In blended classrooms, also know as flipped classrooms, professors use classroom time to interact with students and use the Internet to deliver lectures, typically as web videos. Here is the definition, courtesy of the Innosight Institute:
A formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.
This is a great way to incorporate technology into the classroom — which is what students want — without completely changing the way education is delivered. Among the many differences between blended classrooms and MOOCs is that the blended classroom relies heavily on a physical meeting place to engage with students. In fact, this model actually emphasizes classroom time more than the conventional “sage on the stage” model.
The infographic below offers a brief history of blended learning, as well as concrete examples of universities that are putting this practice into action.