Blended Learning

What Is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is an umbrella term that can refer to a variety of approaches, and so the definitions for blended learning vary to some degree in the literature. However, they all agree that Blended Learning is a strategic combination of in-person and online learning. This approach often results in reduced in-person “seat time” to provide a more balanced work distribution for students and faculty (Heilporn, et al., 2021; Graham, et al., 2013; Porter, et al., 2014;). A blended course is neither completely online nor completely in-person but combines the effectiveness of both.  

Blended Course Design

  • is “the deliberate combination of online and classroom-based instruction that activates and supports learning” (Bruggeman, et al., 2020, p. 3).

  • is “the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies” (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008, p. 148).

  • "…involve[s] instructor and learners working together in mixed delivery modes, typically face-to-face and technology mediated, to accomplish learning outcomes that are pedagogically supported through assignments, activities, and assessments as appropriate for a given mode and which bridge course environments in a manner meaningful to the learner” (McGee & Reis, 2012, p. 9).

Why Choose a Blended Course Design?

Blended course designs have been shown to be highly effective, and have many benefits for students and you, alike. Students benefit from increased flexibility, accessibility, and student interaction in their courses (Joosten et al., 2021). In addition, blended courses allow students to engage in some of the self-paced elements that they appreciated in their asynchronous online courses.

There are also benefits for instructors. Blended courses are agile and flexible, meaning that unexpected changes (e.g., student or instructor illness, shifting public health regulations, etc.) have less impact on course delivery. Blended learning also provides great opportunities for active learning during face-to-face sessions.

Transitioning a completely online course to a blended method of delivery can save course preparation time by making use of the resources (e.g., pre-recorded lecture videos, online activities and assessments, etc.) and skills you developed while teaching online. The time saved allows you to focus on academic discourse, rather than on the logistics of teaching or technology challenges. Blended learning course design aligns with many of the core principles of online teaching at Dalhousie, namely that course designs are Accessible and Inclusive, Flexible, and Interactive.

Pandemic teaching and learning required us all to make last-minute emergency changes that required a lot of time and effort from instructors. Crafting your syllabus, learning activities and plans for any in-person meetings with the expectation that local protocols may change or that your course could be affected by an isolated exposure minimizes the amount of rework that will be required. Blended learning is a great way to accomplish this potential pivot, if necessary.


Bruggeman, B., Tondeur, J., Struyven, K., Pynoo, B., Garone, A., & Vanslambrouck, S. (2020). Experts speaking: Crucial teacher attributes for implementing blended learning in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 48.

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. John Wiley & Sons.

Graham, C. R., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. B. (2013). A framework for institutional adoption and implementation of blended learning in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 4-14.

Heilporn, G., Lakhal, S., & Bélisle, M. (2021). An examination of teachers’ strategies to foster student engagement in blended learning in higher education. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 18(1), 1-25.

Joosten, T., Weber, N., Baker, M., Schletzbaum, A., & McGuire, A. (2021). Planning for a Blended Future: A Research-Driven Guide for Educators. [Report] Every Learner Everywhere Network. Retrieved from:

McGee, P., & Reis, A. (2012). Blended course design: A synthesis of best practices. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(4), 7-22.

Porter, W. W., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. A., & Welch, K. R. (2014). Blended learning in higher education: Institutional adoption and implementation. Computers & Education, 75, 185-195.