blended learning program

5 reasons why blended learning programs fail-and how to save them


Whether it’s botched rollouts or general apathy that kills a blended learning initiative, many telling signs can be identified.

3) Tools aren’t chosen strategically.

Buy-in doesn’t end with getting teachers on board at the start of a program. It impacts everything, including how they will embrace the technology and software you implement.

At Meriden, the teacher buy-in process starts early. We include teachers when we’re looking at new products, bringing teachers with us to weigh in on what they need in their classrooms. We can ask them if the product addresses a need they’re seeing, instead of asking them to make something fit after the fact.

We also make sure the digital content we use is embedded in the core curriculum. Once we look at usage, then we ask what type of supports we need to put in place to make sure our teachers and students improve.

student data

4) Students don’t feel invested.

We never want learning to feel forced upon students, any more than we want it to feel forced upon teachers. In the same way we give teachers a voice in how a program is constructed, we also strive to give students a measure of control over their own learning.

Literacy is a big part of our blended learning program, which encourages students to engage with texts in a variety of ways to help sharpen their literacy skills, all the while providing valuable feedback in the form of data that teachers can use to target instruction.

In general, the whole process goes more smoothly when students enjoy what they’re reading. Using literacy software like myON, students are able to select from thousands of books, and best of all, they can recommend their favorites to others. With Imagine Learning also embedded into our literacy curriculum, we have forged a powerful literacy connection from which everyone benefits.

data-visualization

5) The org chart looks the same as before.

We believe it’s essential to make connections between the data we’re collecting and the teachers. Since blended learning is so critical to our district’s success overall, we created a staff position at Meriden called the blended learning supervisor. It’s this person’s job to analyze ways to maximize teacher use of our digital curriculum products and give assistance as needed. Our first blended learning supervisor was someone from within the teacher’s union who became an expert with our programs, and who can really work closely with teachers and technology integration specialists to make sure we’re tracking and following up on the right things.

We also combined our technology supervisor and curriculum director positions, eliminating debates about where digital content fit into the curriculum. We like our administration to be accessible to teachers so we can discover whether or not the technology is easy for them to use or gives them what they need. In the end, having one person in charge has expedited our mission.

Finally, we have used teachers as leaders to help scale up our program. When some of our teachers who have been working with the model for a while meet specific criterion, they become “I’m Charged” teachers and are recognized as pioneers in digital content. We ask them to open their classrooms and teach other teachers. Because, as we’ve found, when our teachers learn, our students learn.

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