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Distance Learning vs Blended Learning- what's the difference?

We recognise, in Portobello Institute, our students have different learning styles with varying commitments and busy lives. We try to accommodate as many as possible by offering our courses through four different methods of learning. Depending on your learning style, the time you have available and the type of course you are seeking to undertake, you can choose from the following modes of delivery;

  • Contact Tuition
  • Flexible Delivery
  • Distance Learning
  • Blended Learning

To help you choose the type of delivery that suits your learning style and lifestyle best, we have provided an explanation of the modes of delivery for you here.

What is Full & Part-Time Contact Tuition?

Contact Tuition is face-to-face learning – the traditional “Talk & Chalk” classroom-based learning. If you choose a course delivered by this method, you will come into the Institute, attend your classes and tutorials with direct learning from your tutor. The advantages of this type of learning is you have the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with your tutor and your peers on your programme. Peer to peer learning occurs most naturally in this type of environment.

Many courses in Portobello are available through this form of learning on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time usually refers to courses run during the day and can be anything from 2 – 5 days per week. Part-time usually refers to courses run at night or weekends and are usually a maximum of 2 nights per week or 1 weekend per month. Check the specific course on our website for clarity on the time requirement.

What’s the difference between Distance and Blended Learning methods?

Distance Learning can be seen as the opposite of contact tuition with all of the content and support materials to complete a course uploaded on to an e-learning platform for you to interact with This approach allows students the freedom of studying in an environment suited to their lifestyle. A common misconception is that you need to be a computer wizard to complete a distance learning or e-learning course. This is not the case, simple computer skills such as searching the internet, opening a file are all that are required to complete an online course. There are comprehensive directions available as to how to access information, interact with the materials you might need. You are given logins to use at the start of the course and you will have the opportunity to gain support from the dedicated distance learning programme manager within Portobello Institute. This type of delivery method is applied to many of Portobello Institute’s short courses where it suits the student to be self-sufficient in their learning journey.

Many students are seeking a combination of being able to study at a time that suits them but with the support of a tutor and the learning from peers included. Blended learning suits this student perfectly as it is a combination of contact tuition and distance learning. Everything needed to complete the course is available on a web-based learning platform. At the commencement of each module within a course, there will be a tutorial workshop held. This allows students the opportunity to meet their tutors in person and their other classmates. A comprehensive overview of the content of the module, the learning outcomes and assessment requirements is covered during this workshop. A demonstration on how to use the web-based learning platform is given during the induction workshop. The course work is usually given on a week-to-week basis to support you to stay on track. Assessments are uploaded online, and in many cases, a draft of your assessment can be submitted for feedback by your tutor before you submit the final version. Blended Learning for many is the best of both worlds, it gives you the independence and freedom to study at a time suited to you whilst also offering you the guidance from expert tutors and the support of a peer to peer network from your fellow classmates.

How does Flexible Delivery differ to Blended Learning

Flexible Delivery takes the schedule of a traditional face to face learning programme and re-structures it to reduce the contact tuition time by introducing more online learning together with one to one tutor support.  This mode of delivery includes contact tuition and web-based e-learning sessions. The e-learning platform is interactive including recorded sessions, webinars with weekly content and assigned tasks to themes and topics. The time commitment will be greater than a blended learning programme. A blended learning programme usually has a single workshop at the start of a module whereas a flexible delivery programme will usually have a minimum of 1 weekend per month attendance required. This type of delivery is generally applied to courses with a practical skills element such as our BSc (hons) in Sports Therapy and allows you to work full-time and balance the requirements of a lengthy programme with home and work.


Whatever your preference is, Portobello Institute aims to provide the best option of learning for you, be it full-time, part-time or at your own pace through either Distance or Blended learning. If you are interested in Sports, Montessori, Early Years, Fashion, Beauty and more, check out our list of courses by clicking here.

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