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Lesson 5: Rotational model


The rotational model involves learners rotating between face-to-face learning modalities and the online environment. Rotations occur on a fixed schedule determined by the instructor.  Rotations vary from station rotation, lab rotation and individual or small group rotation (customized schedule of rotation through learning modules for each student or a group) (Cleveland-Innes & Wilton, 2018).

The online environment serves as the repository of learning for the course with the rotations providing opportunities to apply the conceptual online learning to practical applications in face-to-face environments. The way that students engage with the course content will vary according to the rotational model that you choose. 

Rotational model

Types of rotational classrooms

(Staker & Horn, 2012)

Each station (in person or online) represents a different learning activity, where all students rotate through all learning stations on a fixed schedule.

  1. Key features

    The duration and the number of rotations is determined by the instructor based on the class size, content depth and the equipment availability.

  2. Example

    The course is divided into three stations. Each Monday the students attend in-person lectures, then rotate to small group online discussions on Wednesday, and work on their individual projects with a tutor on Friday.

Each student rotates through the learning modalities on a customized schedule set by the instructor. 

  1. Key features

    The students can choose the activities to rotate through, which tailors the course content to each student, but also makes the scheduling more complex.

  2. Example

    The learners rotate through chosen sections of online content, participate in group projects and tutorials as scheduled by the instructor, based on their needs and specialization.

Students rotate on a fixed schedule through the learning modalities of the course, one or more of which is a learning lab.

  1. Key features

    Depending on the subject matter, learners rotate from lectures to online and  in-person labs, in small groups or individually.

  2. Example

    The learners rotate among direct instruction (in-person or online lectures) and the online learning lab supported by a TA.


The rotational model is well-suited for courses where learning predominantly focuses on “acquiring transferable skills to be applied at modules optimized for those skills” (Yang, 2019, p. 264).  

It can be adapted to a variety of settings, where the students can rotate within the classroom, to another room, or off-campus, with online components enhancing the rotation. Practicing new skills during the assigned labs and tutorials is an essential component for lab rotations.

On the other hand, re-enforcement of new competencies and attitudes could be implemented by including the modality where the learners engage in reflective practice.  

The use of the rotational model will depend on the following considerations: 


How can the subject matter be taught and the different rotations bridged to promote meaningful student engagement with the course content? 

Class size

Will the class size influence how the stations are created and when students rotate through each section?

Course level

How do the course level, breadth and depth of content, as well as expectations for students impact the type of rotation?

Learning outcomes

What skills are the course outcomes primarily centered around? Each rotation can focus on developing different analytical, technical and transferrable skills.

Core elements of rotational blended course design

Well-implemented rotations in the course provide the students greater control of their learning. While guided by the instructor, the learners can set their own pace. In turn, the instructor is better informed about the class progress and comprehension of the different aspects of the content and can tailor further instruction to focus on the areas that might require more explanation.

In rotational blended learning model, technology is incorporated into one (or more) modalities the students would rotate through. It can also facilitate the transitions between the modalities and be used across the whole course for efficient communication, collaboration and assessment.

Are both physical and online spaces conducive to easy transitions during rotations? Are they accessible or adaptable to the needs of a diverse group of learners? Certain implementations of the rotational model require more physical space and thoughtful design of physical and online activities to balance the workload of in-person and online modalities.

Lesson checklist

  • Discover three types of rotational models 

  • Identify the core elements of the rotational model

  • Determine key considerations when using the rotational model


More lessons

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Lesson 6: Summary

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Lesson 1: Getting started with blended learning

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Lesson 2: Blended face-to-face-model