Learning Models – Active, Passive and Blended

We can all learn, but we don’t all learn in the same way. Where learning is concerned, there is no one approach that fits all people. Learning models help us to make sense of the teaching-learning processes. Learning models provide teachers with an organized system for creating an appropriate learning environment, and planning instructional activities.

In this blog I would like to discuss just three learning models that has meaning in the new ed-tech environment of the 21st century:

  • Passive learning
  • Active learning
  • Blended learning


Passive Learning

Passive learning occurs when students use their senses to take in information from a lecture, reading assignment, or audiovisual. This is the mode of learning most commonly present in classrooms. It is used to acquire ideas and information that is available for recall.


  1. Can present a great deal of information in a short period of time.
  2. Lecture notes, handouts, and audiovisual media can be selected and prepared in advance.
  3. Controlled environment (faculty more comfortable).
  4. Good for new faculty member or one who is teaching new content.
  5. Students most often prefer this approach (they are used to this method of teaching).
  6. Important concepts and content identified a concrete, organized, and meaningful manner.
  7. Students have lower anxiety levels and feel more secure with this method.


  1. Little opportunity to assess how well students are learning the content.
  2. Little time for questions, clarification, or discussion.
  3. Students may not feel comfortable letting faculty know that they do not understand key concepts, they are reluctant to ask questions in class, or they may not ask enough questions to clarify their misunderstandings.
  4. Does not require consistent use of higher-level cognitive skills (no opportunity for application).
  5. May become tedious and boring.

Active learning

Active learning involves the student through participation and investment of energy in all three phases of the learning process (input, operations, and feedback). This type of learning is more apt to stimulate higher cognitive processes and critical thinking.


  1. May increase critical thinking skills in students.
  2. Enables students to show initiative.
  3. Involves students by stimulating them to talk more.
  4. Incorporates more student input and ideas.
  5. Easier to assess student learning.
  6. Better meets the needs of students with varying learning styles.


  1. Faculty need to be expert in the content area.
  2. May be difficult to organize active learning experiences.
  3. Requires more time and energy and may be stressful for faculty.
  4. Faculty may receive less favourable evaluations from students.
  5. Students may be stressed because of the necessity to adapt to new ways of learning.

Blended Learning

The convergence of traditional, classroom based teaching and modern, technology based learning, may be termed as blended learning model; this can been further modified and adopted to meet the varied needs of its diverse audience, to make it more learner centric and adaptive. It is a a good mixture of active and passive learning.

The blended learning model has many components, and is utilised to emphasise the philosophy of ‘any time, any place, and any path, any pace’ for the benefit of its students.

Here are some of the components of a blended learning model:

  1. eLearning/Video
  2. Workbook/Self Study
  3. Virtual classroom
  4. Face to face teaching
  5. Blogs, Wikies and discussions
  6. On-line quizzes, exams
  7. Projects and hand-on work

Blended Learning

Blended learning model can be used for a flipped classroom also. The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop-style interaction where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and do hands-on activities. During class sessions, instructors function as coaches or facilitators, encouraging students in individual inquiry and collaborative effort.

Since blended learning model is a mix of active and passive learning, it has all the advantages and disadvantages as mentioned above. But in the ed-tech environment of the 21st century,  it looks that blended learning is the way forward.


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