Oct 20 2016

A Guide to Blended Learning

Blended learning can be briefly summarised in one sentence: online learning + classroom. How is it different to traditional learning and who is it for?

What is Blended Learning really about?

If you’re reading this, you are probably already interested in studying for a higher education qualification and may have researched the options available to you. The great news is, there are now more options than ever to make your aspirations a reality! 

Sometimes we find ourselves too busy to attend a traditional university – we work full time, look after a family or simply have a rich social life. For many of us distance learning could be the answer; but for those who want the structure of a traditional university with the flexibility of online learning there is a third option to consider – blended learning.

Blended Learning can be briefly summarised in one sentence: online learning + classroom. 

You would normally be attending a campus once or twice a week for that personal tuition time and peer interaction, then use the virtual classroom to progress your learning and complete your assignment wherever and whenever it suits you. Great for that on-campus experience without the full-time commitment to attending physical classes! 

Blended versus traditional Higher Education

Blended Learning is a method that has proven to be not only effective in terms of learning outcomes, but also ranks high on ratings of satisfaction with students and instructors (Dzuiban, Hartman & Moskal, 2004). So how does it compare to traditional University learning?

Blended vs Traditional Method

Method of learning:

Blended Learning:

  • 2 or 3 days of classroom delivery a week for personal tuition time and peer interaction.
  • Complete your assignments and watch webinars and presentations online.
  • Opportunity to engage with different types of content types of content like video, audio and visually enhanced presentations.

Traditional Learning:

  • On-campus, classroom.
  • Many universities offer as little as 10 hours of lecture times a week – typically spread across 5 days. This, alongside long commutes, means that many students are unable to work alongside their studies and gain the all-important work experience.

Who is it for?

Blended Learning:

  • Those looking to make a smarter choice - combining online and on-campus learning offers the best of both worlds. Limited time spent on campus allows the flexibility to manage other commitments, such as part-time work or childcare.
  • Those concerned about the cost of traditional university - with Blended Learning, you pay for what matters: high-quality course content and teaching. You can save up to a third of the cost of a degree with a traditional campus uni.
  • Those able and happy to commute to the city centre twice a week - not only will living it home save you money, it will also save the hassle of relocating. Those with an established family, work and social life are able to continue as normal.

Traditional Learning:

  • Young people who want to get the traditional ‘university experience’.
  • Those who are willing and able to postpone or pause their career in order to focus on academic study for three years.
  • People who are very comfortable working with reading lists, note taking, text and lecture-delivered content and traditional learning approaches.


Blended Learning

  • Tuition fees vary per course but are more affordable than traditional universities
  • Potential to earn while you learn and compressed timetabling means you are only on campus 2 days per week.
  • Eligible for Student Finance.

Traditional Learning

  • Tuition fees (£9000 + a year)
  • Accommodation costs can make traditional uni life very costly.
  • Eligible for Student Finance.

Classroom Environment:

Blended Learning:

A ‘learn and do’ approach – lectures and presentations can be viewed online via webinar and video at a time that suits you. Your classroom time then becomes more efficient as you can apply the newly found knowledge in discussions, debates and project working.

Traditional Learning:

A ‘sit and listen’ approach – time spent passively receiving lectures and presentations.

Quality of content:

Blended Learning:

  • Access to pre-recorded lectures and webinars – pause to take notes when needed.
  • Rerun videos and take online tests for immediate feedback.
  • Access to material that’s always up-to-date – tutors can easily tweak the content to reflect any changes in the industry.

Traditional Learning:

  • Content provided through books and printouts.
  • Notes need to be take in real-time – no time to stop and reflect.


Blended Learning:

  • Best of both worlds – Full time three year degree based on compressed timetable supported by flexible online study support.
  • Fully compatible with continued working for that all-important work experience and the ability to continue earning while you learn.

Traditional Learning:

  • The full ‘university experience’, freshers' week, campus-bar and social activities, new friends and social groups.


Blended Learning

  • Generally narrower course availability and likely to be more business and professionally-oriented subjects – so less likely to be suited to those wishing to study classic humanities and similar.

Traditional Learning

  • High cost means high debt
  • Spread timetabling means you have to be on campus every day
  • Traditional teaching model could be more passive and theoretical
  • Difficult to manage around work and caring commitments

There is a wide range of qualifications offered via Blended Learning, including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Blended Learning gives you the opportunity to learn as you earn and to come out with a degree and relevant experience to progress your career. So, you’re well equipped to get that dream job when the time comes!