News

9 case studies reveal secrets of successful blended, online learning programs

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
May 26th, 2016

online learning

Evergreen Education Group details academic outcomes of nine different programs using Fuel Education

Successful online and blended learning programs in a recent survey are those that prioritized better teacher-student relationships, used an online curriculum as a primary instructional source, and used a combination of in-person and virtual instructional support.

Over the past year, digital learning policy research and advisory firm Evergreen Education Group conducted in-depth analyses of nine schools that use online curriculum and platforms from Fuel Education (FuelEd) as the instructional foundation of their programs.

After observing and interviewing groups of students, faculty, staff, and school leadership at each of the nine schools, Evergreen Education Group identified certain key characteristics that make blended and online learning programs successful, including student relationships, online curriculum as the primary source of instruction, and a variety of instructional support.

Evergreen Education Group, in cooperation with FuelEd, has published an executive summary and nine full case studies, “Outcomes of Blended and Online Learning Programs in Schools Using Fuel Education Curriculum.” The report aims to further the understanding and potential benefits of blended and online learning programs among schools demonstrating strong academic results, and to highlight the commonalities in instructional models, practices, measurements of success, and outcomes.

Of the nine online or blended learning programs, five were whole school programs and four were credit recovery and remedial programs.

While all differed in size, demographics, community types, location, and status of program development, the research team found important similarities.

Each program reported improved student outcomes despite serving a broad spectrum of students — from failing and struggling students to mainstream and advanced students seeking a personalized educational experience. In addition, the programs used different measures of success, such as scores on year-end tests, graduation rates, and college attendance rates.

Teachers, administrators, and students attributed the success of their programs to several factors:

Better relationships with students—All schools felt establishing deep and meaningful teacher-student relationships was an essential component to success and thus made it a priority. When teachers had a better understanding of both a student’s academic capability and his or her personal and family situations, they were better able to tailor their teaching and counseling activities to fit that student’s individual needs. Students agreed and felt that their teachers genuinely cared about them and would help them succeed.
Online curriculum as primary source of instruction—Using the FuelEd curriculum allowed teachers to work more directly with students in both one-on-one and small group formats. Many students felt they received more personal attention from teachers in these programs than in traditional schools. Schools cited one of the benefits of the FuelEd curriculum was its comprehensive catalog of content for kindergarten through 12th grade, including core courses, electives, advanced courses, credit recovery, and remediation. Teachers from all schools reported that the online courses were appropriately rigorous and provided a highly engaging learning experience for students. Students worked on these courses at their own pace, and most reported this flexibility as one of the major reasons for their success.
In-person and virtual instructional support—Most students interacted with their teachers frequently each day, whether the interaction was in-person or virtual. Many students reported that they received more personal attention from their teachers in these programs than in a traditional school setting.

“Overall, the research team was struck by the upbeat, positive attitudes of students, teachers, and staff, and by the different but impressive results within each program,” according to the report. “The most noted keys to success were the strong relationships between individual teachers and individual students supported by the comprehensive and flexible online curriculum provided by FuelEd.”

“These nine programs are excellent examples of how schools are successfully using blended and online learning to meet the unique needs of their students and to improve academic outcomes,” said Gregg Levin, General Manager of Fuel Education. “We are pleased to team with Evergreen Education Group to document these different implementation approaches and best practices to share with other schools and districts looking for innovative ways to better engage students, empower their teachers, and boost achievement.”

 

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Ascione Devaney is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura