Online learning has transformed contemporary education. It has opened the doors for students to digest information in an entirely new way, learn on their own time and at their own pace, and do it all in the comfort of their own home. However, online schooling can also be isolating, since many students benefit from having face-to-face (F2F) time with a teacher and peers. For us, the answer was blended learning, which gives students a mixture of online and F2F instruction.
At Springs Studio for Academic Excellence (previously named Falcon Virtual Academy) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, we started out as an online-only school with one day a week of F2F tutoring. As a virtual school for grades K–12, our goal was to make sure we met the needs of students who did not succeed in a traditional school setting.
When we looked at data points—course completion, course grade, and assessment scores—we realized that students who regularly came to the school for even one day a week of F2F time were far more successful than those who were strictly online/virtual. This made it clear that our students needed more options, so we moved to an enhanced blended model, offering in-person teacher support and direct instruction two days a week. In addition, teachers are now in the building five days a week to offer interventions and support for students who need additional F2F time.
On our journey from virtual to blended, we learned three important lessons.