Posts Tagged 'Blended Learning'

Schools, #BlendedLearning Road Trip and Digital Learning Day #dld

Happy Digital Learning Day! As part of this week, I’ve been writing about blended learning. There are excellent resources available for implementing blended learning. The Christensen Institute has done an excellent job of defining and profiling different blended learning schools across the U.S. The Getting Smart team, with Digital Learning Now and the Learning Accelerator have provided a very useful Blended Learning Implementation Guide (now in v2). 

My colleague, Allison Powell from iNACOL, and myself are spending this week visiting blended learning schools in California. I even got a little creative and created a blended learning roadmap for our blended learning road trip via Google maps that I will continue to add to. We are in the process of developing a blended learning roadmap that can be used by schools and teachers across the field in implementing blended learning.

We have visited three schools in two days and will be visiting another five in the next two days. We’ll write more about our observations later. However, it occurs to me that as we look at blended learning implementations, it is important to consider the type of school that is implementing blended learning. There is a difference between implementing a blended learning program in an established traditional school, a new charter school or an established private school. There is also a difference in how a blended learning program looks at an elementary school, a middle school or a high school. Some how, we need to make these distinctions as we continue to discuss the implementation of blended learning across the field.  

We know from past experiences in the implementation of ed tech initiatives, such as 1-to1 devices, that it takes time in an established school to implement, sustain and move a program across an entire school. And it takes time to show results on state assessments and to provide the needed professional development so that all teachers understand and implement the innovation. I am often reminded of Everett Roger’s Theory of Diffusion of Innovations and what causes an innovation to become accepted throughout an organization. Overall, helping teachers to transform their teaching and transform their classroom into a more student-centered classroom where students have more control of their learning is often the greatest challenge. Historically in the U.S. we have taught teachers that they are the dispensers of information and the sage on the stage and the keepers of the knowledge to be dispensed to their students on  a daily basis. A true blended learning implementation shifts the paradigm and the pedagogy of teaching to something much different than most teachers are used to. Although leadership, technology and other elements are important, the teacher is the key element in any successful and ongoing blended learning implementation.

When I walk into a classroom that has implemented 1-to-1 devices or blended learning, there is a different feeling in the classroom that is often difficult to capture and articulate. Students are engaged in learning in a way that did not exist in just the print world. When a classroom is organized to allow students to have more ownership of their learning, teachers have more time to spend with students individually and to better personalize the learning experience when formative student data is easily available. 

I look forward to sharing further observations of blended learning programs as we complete our California Blended Learning Road Trip. As I shared in my blogpost earlier this week, blended learning is messy. However, with many educators and researchers across the U.S. and the world writing about what blended learning looks like, and how it impacts student learning, it will become easier to understand…and for all schools to implement. 


Reflections from #iNACOL13

The iNACOL Symposium ended two weeks ago, but the excitement, energy, the learning, the sharing and collaboration continues. The total attendees were 2424 and represented educators, thought leaders, administrators, teachers, companies, organizations, and individuals who are passionate about blended and online learning. For me, it is always meeting people that I have not had a chance to meet before, hearing about how people are making an impact on education, and realizing how important it is for all of us to be unified in our voices. The symposium reaffirmed the common beliefs that I think we all share: that we want to impact education in new and more efficient ways so more students graduate from high school career and/or college ready. To do this, it will take all educators – traditional, blended, online – to accomplish this.

Reading the various reflections that others have written affirms the importance of the annual iNACOL Symposium as a catalyst for change.

On YouTube, an interview of Michael Horn with Rose Fernandez.

Through the symposium online community,  individuals continue to interact, collaborate and share their thoughts. I found some specific blog reflections that I have highlighted below.

  • David from Just Popped in My Head shared the importance of modularizing professional development – especially when using blended and online learning approaches.
  • The Getting Smart team produced several blogposts that highlighted the conference. Their reflection post pretty much summarized the key aspects of the symposium including blended schools and tools, digital development, teachers and tech, higher, deepear, further, faster learning.
  • George Rislov discussed seeing the future at the iNACOL Symposium.
  • Melanie Malski wrote, “passion is contagious, brilliance is inspiring, and commiserating with co-workers is refreshing.”
  • Stacy Hawthorne shared that iNACOL13 was a GPS for Learning.
  • The Hot Lunch Tray blog shared a wonderful “brain dump” of all of the things she learned at the symposium including how to foster online rapport with students, how to roll out a blended learning program, and online communities of collaboration.
  • Margo Flowers shared the importance of photos and shared this slide from the game based learning session where she posted the definition of “FAIL” = First Attempt In Learning.

Various articles appeared in different publications such as this one from EdWeek entitled, “District Officials Eye Blended Learning, With Cautionary Lessons in Mind”.

More images of the Symposium can be found on the iNACOL Facebook page or the Twitter Stream (#inacol13). And use Tagboard to see more tweets and pictures from Instagram with the hashtag #inacol13.

I look forward to seeing everyone at iNACOL14, which will be November 4-7, 2014 in Palm Springs, California.


Keeping Pace K-12 2013 Report at #inacol13

One of the yearly reports I always look forward to reading each year and is always released at the iNACOL Symposium is the report: “Keeping Pace with K-12 Online and Blended Learning: An Annual Review of Policy and Practice.” The Keeping Pace Report is a survey of all states and how K-12 online learning and blended learning are being used in each state. One of the first things I always do is check the snapshot of the state I live in (California) to see what is happening in my state.

John Watson and Amy Murin shared the overview of the new report with the State Virtual School Leaders PreConference at the symposium.  John and Amy shared some interesting findings of the current report that stood out for me.

The process of counting online students in supplemental programs is: One student taking one semester of one online course.

In 2009 there were 27 states with state virtual schools and in 2013 there are still 27 states with state virtual schools but some have been added and some states are no longer funding state virtual schools.

 A course choice program in Keeping Pace is defined as:

  1. Students to choose to take a course from one or more providers
  2. A district cannot deny a student’s request to enroll in an out-of-district course
  3. Funding follows the student at the course level

The State of Florida is the lead in many of these areas for three reasons:

  1. Florida Virtual School was established in 1986 and is consistently the largest statewide virtual school
  2. Florida is a school choice state by law (and has been for many years)
  3. There is a law that requires all schools to offer some type of online program options for students

Blended Learning is included in the Keeping Pace 2013 report. See p. 19 for the chart. The authors have done a good job of beginning to count the number of states that have blended learning schools. 

The Keeping Pace Report defines fully blended learning schools as: 

  • A stand-alone school with a school code
  • Much of the curriculum is delivered online
  • Attendance is required at a physical site during the school year for more than just state assessments

The ongoing challenge is how to define what “much of the curriculum is delivered online” really looks like. Until districts and states really start to count blended learning students, this will be a challenge. But, maybe it is not important to count students. After all, the more important questions are:

  • Are students learning?
  • Are students engaged in learning?
  • What strategies or educational structures most engage student learning?
  • Are students prepared for college and the world of work? 

#vss12 Reflections and Perspectives

A variety of individuals – all who care deeply about education – recently attended or participated in iNACOL’s Virtual School Symposium 2012 that took place in October in New Orleans.  More than 2000 people attended the conference and about 45% of the people who attended were new to attending the conference. Everyone else had attended at least one time in the past. There were more than 1500 tweets that occurred with the #Vss12 hashtag and a number of blogposts were written.

First, it seems like the “Toms” were some of the key bloggers who wrote their ideas about their take aways from VSS. First, Tom Vander Ark wrote about the six trends he observed including creative tools, competency based learning, educational choice, personalized learning, bring your own device and rethinking systems.  Tom Whitby, in a post entitled “The Missing Link“, shared that he believed that the VSS12 attracted some of the best of the best in online and blended learning. He found that many of the sessions he attended were presented by vendors and education reformers, and emphasized the importance of having “real classroom educators” presenting the sessions in the future.

Other trends shared included how the virtual school symposium is shifting to learning more about blended learning and teaching as shared by Education Week blogger Ian Quillen while Andrew Miller wrote about how games in virtual education is another trend. Another Education Week blogger, Katie Ash wrote about how blended learning models have developed that foreshadowed what would occur at VSS12.  In addition, Tory Gattis from the Houston Chronicle wrote about his take aways including the keynote speech by John White, Superintendent of Education in Louisiana  how Louisiana and other states are empowering schools to utilize blended and online learning, and how 46 states have adopted the new Common Core standards.  Bekci Kelly wrote about how VSS is a call to action by all who attended to share and collaborate about online and blended learning, while Joy Nehr wrote about what many considered was a highlight of VSS – the student panel.  A recording of that student panel can be found here. Finally, Roxy Mourant shared her notes from the VSS sessions she attended here.

Other reflections include:

Many of the VSS sessions were recorded which can be found here.

The ongoing conversation about schooling

The ongoing conversation about school continues today with this post by Chris Lehmann where he states that he is “against for-profit companies running schools as for-profit ventures.”  Gary Stager followed up with a post where he agrees with Chris and states, “Since the evidence supporting computerized teaching systems has been weak since WWII, the dystopians and their bankers pushing this idea feel compelled to dress it up in fancy names like “Carpe Diem,” “Flipped Classroom,” “School of One,” “Blast,” “Khan Academy,” etc….”  Gary also referred to writings of Seymour Papert to reinforce his thoughts and referred to a post from Will Richardson where he liked the statement Chris made calling “for-profit education a thin value proposition.”  Will, in his past posts here and somewhat here continues to question the value of for-profit companies running schools.  Another voice that seems to support this perspective is Diane Ravitch who discusses privatization here and big business charter schools here.

I continue to wonder…

  • What is education reform?
  • Should the conversation and action regarding education reform only occur within traditional public school systems?
  • What is the solution to the  30% of students who drop out of high school without a diploma each year?
  • How do we engage learners – especially African-American and Latino males – in school that leads to a high school diploma?
  • How do we engage all learners so all students are excited about learning?
  • Are students only engaged in learning if they are in face-to-face traditional classrooms with a teacher in room?

And then this update from an article I read after posting the above…How do we engage learners when many reports like this one show that poverty is the issue?


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