Blended Learning Models Teaching Strategies for 1:1 and Shared Device Districts

Blended learning isn’t one-size-fits-all. While some districts have 1:1 technology, others choose to invest in shared devices. For any device ratio, it’s important to take a step back and visualize how iPads can be effectively utilized in an instructional setting.

Which type of blended learning model are you considering?

Click a model below to explore best practices, teaching strategies, and success stories of each classroom model from districts across the country.

Station Rotation/Centers

The station rotation—or centers—model is a popular choice for districts with a limited number of devices. A station rotation model enables teachers to deliver a targeted mini-lesson with a small group of students while the rest of the class rotates through a variety of planned centers. Only one of the centers needs to be equipped with iPads, reducing the cost of blended learning to a minimum. Classrooms may only need five or six tablets as students can take turns using the devices for 20-40 minutes per day. When not engaged in the teacher mini-lesson or tablet center, students have the opportunity to rotate through a variety of teacher-created activities. The station rotation model helps older students direct their own learning and provides younger students with the opportunity to cut, paste, draw, and complete other activities that will develop their fine motor skills.

Split Classroom

In a split class blended learning model, the teacher can zero in on a topic that half the class may be struggling with while the other half works independently on their tablets. This model works well with a 1:2 ratio of shared devices. In order to be successful, the split classroom model requires that all independent work completed by students is both engaging and rigorous. This is where a program like eSpark can be used to ensure that students are working on a personalized iPad curriculum that will captivate their attention and support them in their greatest areas of need. Advantages of this blended learning model include lowering the student-to-teacher ratio and reducing costs as 1:1 devices are not necessary.

“Our [blended learning] program will provide students with additional support to address academic gaps experienced from New York State shifting from state standards to Common Core State Standards.””

Dr. Roxanne France

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Valley Stream 30

Whole Classroom with Targeted Instruction

In a targeted instruction model, teachers pull aside a small group of students to deliver a differentiated mini-lesson while the rest of the class engages independently with 1:1 tablets. An advantage of targeted instruction includes the opportunity for teachers to deliver high-quality, meaningful lessons in a blended learning model that is relatively easy to adopt. While many districts who implement this model have a large number of iPads throughout the district a district-wide 1:1 program is not required. This type of instruction can also be successful with shared, rotating iPad carts so classrooms can take turns utilizing iPads throughout the school day.

Franklin-McKinley Data Results

“eSpark has allowed us to instruct and support each student at his or her level. It’s rare to find a solution that leads to high levels of growth for both GenEd and ELL students. eSpark does that."

Stella Kemp

Assistant Superintendent, Franklin-McKinley School District

Flipped Classroom

In a flipped classroom model, students bring tablets home and complete their blended learning plans as homework. This model requires 1:1 devices. The flipped classroom differs the most from other blended learning models and traditional instruction. “Flipping” the classroom extends learning time past traditional school hours and saves the teacher valuable time during the day. Students are able to watch instructional videos or play educational apps at home and prepare to discuss their learning during school hours to further develop skills or clarify content. This model is typically harder to monitor as students are held accountable for progressing through tablet instruction in an environment without teacher guidance. Keep in mind that in order for a flipped classroom model to be successful, students must have access to both a mobile device and wifi connection at home.


Successful blended learning models are not one-size-fits-all. Regardless of student-to-device ratio, most districts can experiment with different instructional models. District leaders must determine what meets the diverse needs of teachers and students and how it fits into the technology budget and desired timeline. While some districts streamline iPad implementations to incorporate one instructional model throughout their schools, others see value in utilizing multiple models to best serve the needs of all students. In mixed model districts, teachers often have a flexible approach to try different instructional methods, learn from other peers, and adapt their classroom to become increasingly more effective.