Blended learning goes mainstream

For the first time in 2010, Keeping Pace addressed the growing number of blended learning programs across the country. Charter schools like Rocketship Education in San Jose and VOISE in Chicago are breaking new ground with school-wide programs, while 150 public schools in Florida have implemented ELearning Centers or Virtual Learning Labs in partnership with Florida Virtual School (FLVS) to provide scheduled time and a workspace for students taking an online course (offered through FLVS with an FLVS teacher), expanding curriculum opportunities for students. Anecdotal evidence is strong that well-designed blended learning models are successfully increasing student outcomes. Let’s take a look at some definitions. Keeping Pace chooses to use the term “blended learning,” though some people use the terms blended and hybrid learning interchangeably. Blended should combine significant components of both online and face-to-face instruction, at either the course or school level. Additional details can be found in the diagram “Defining Dimensions of Blended Learning Models.

While there are myriad benefits to blended learning, the most important goal should always be to increase student engagement and learning. While schools can use blended learning as a cost-efficient way to extend the school day (we’ll address this benefit in a future post), or to prepare students with 21st century skills, the fact is that the primary goal must always be to improve student success. With the capability for individualization at the student level and content mastery learning, we believe blended learning has the potential provide answers to some of the toughest questions in education.

We are always looking for blended models and schools that we don’t know about, and we’re already thinking about how to address the rapidly changing blended learning landscape in Keeping Pace 2011. If you know of a blended model or school, please let us know in the comments or by emailing Amy.