“…The raw functionality [blended learning operators] need from online products is still lacking. Even more problematic is that the available offerings and different systems are not well integrated; as a result, the different products don’t ‘talk to’ and sync well with each other,” says the report.

The report theorizes that the “historically inhospitable” climate of the public K-12 education system for start-up companies has scared away private investment capital.

Also, “long, complicated, and political” district sales cycles make it hard to create a profitable education start-up, which has held back the evolution of the industry.

Read more about blended learning:

Teachers turn learning upside down

Panel: Remove barriers to digital learning

eSN Special Report: Blended learning on the rise

The report calls for:

  • Integrated systems that support the seamless assimilation of online content from different sources into the student experience, while allowing student achievement data to flow easily across the school in real time. School operators also should have a data dashboard that integrates academic progress, attendance, behavioral data, college planning, and more, all in one place in an actionable and simple format;
  • Hundreds of hours of high-quality, dynamic content aligned to standards;
  • Analytics;
  • Automation; and
  • Enhanced student motivation through applications that engage and incentivize students in their own learning through social networks, games, and rewards.

But it’s not just the technology and content that is needed to support blended learning; policy also must come into play—policy that allows for “autonomous spaces where schools can deploy innovative models in the right regulatory context,” says the report.

“If the regulatory structure demands affordable quality focused around each individual student, then education technology companies and school operators will chase the right goals,” it continues. “Policy makers must seek to create a better framework for blended learning models in every realm of public education—from charter to traditional districts—that, broadly speaking, escapes the current input-focused rules, in exchange for higher accountability around outcomes.”

The report mentions that strong charter laws that already do some of this—by allowing exemptions from class-size restrictions and certification requirements, for example, in exchange for tough accountability requirements—make new charter schools ripe for this kind of innovation.

It also describes specific policy points that states must “get right,” based on “Digital Learning Now!” a policy framework for states to use digital learning to transform the education system, headed by former governors Jeb Bush of Florida and Bob Wise of West Virginia.

“If states climb on board with policies that incentivize outcomes and free up operators to create new schools with more flexibility,” concludes the report, “the transformation [to a more productive education system] could be breathtaking.”

Links:

“The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning”

Innosight Institute

“Digital Learning Now!”


Note to readers:
Don’t forget to visit the Interactive learning in the connected classroom resource center. Research has shown that technology can, indeed, help improve teaching and learning when used wisely-and companies have responded in kind, creating hardware, software, and other devices that give teachers innovative ways to engage students, improve retention, and make learning more interactive. Go to:

Interactive learning in the connected classroom