“At some point, we’ll get to a model school system where every student will be different,” said Chip Slaven, a senior advocacy associate for the Alliance for Excellent Education. Digital learning and digital content will help educators and students take a much more personalized approach to learning.
“Teachers can really do what they can’t do now, and that is spend a lot of time with each student—that’s a great model for us to strive for,” Slaven said.
“The most important thing is that there is data,” he added. “Students are taking formative assessments every time they take a lesson or a unit, and if they aren’t performing well, the teacher can know that because they’ll be able to look at the feedback and instantaneous results.”
Blended learning must combine technology and tools with policies and a solid plan if it is to be successful, he said.
“I think the choice shouldn’t be between full-time traditional school and full-time virtual school,” Finn said. Different learning options mean that students can travel to a structured setting such as a brick-and-mortar school and receive instruction delivered by technology, or they can take all of their instruction at home over the computer.
Policy makers can be confused by what it means to have a virtual school, Finn said. Thinking about virtual education as something other than having the ability to take one course online can open up opportunities for many students, and can “increase access to STEM, especially as budgets in states are under more and more pressure. These are opportunities to provide a rich offering of high-quality courses in a very cost-efficient deliver mechanism.”
“The blended concept is one of the most difficult concepts to convey to policy leaders,” Finn said. “It really is the future of education,” but it will require specific decisions about how education leaders and policy makers want to provide education.
Finn reviewed the 10 Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning from the Digital Learning Council, which advocates policies that will create a high quality digital learning environment to better prepare students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers.
The elements are:
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