Ubiquitous access to technology means that acquiring knowledge is no longer dependent solely on a classroom teacher. Google provides quick and easy access to information while YouTube provides on-demand how-to videos on just about any topic. Access to unlimited new information has created seemingly contradictory qualities in today’s students—more self-reliant and independent, but with a preference toward collaborative learning environments and comfortable learning with other students.

Consequently, students are not interested in sitting through lectures only to be required to regurgitate information back to the teacher on a test. Today’s students believe technology should be seamlessly connected to their academic experiences. Technological tools are integrated into the lives of today’s students and they want those same tools integrated into their educational experiences.

The case for blending and online learning

When implemented well, online and blended learning options give teachers an opportunity to transform the educational experience—to meet the needs of a broader group of learners, individualize instruction, and transform education for everyone.

How to improve your district's blended-learning program

As new constraints have been placed on school budgets over the last decade, the need for change has become more pronounced. School districts that are not prepared to offer online and blended-learning options for students will experience increased competition for enrollments from a variety of public and private online providers, including charter and cyber charter schools.

The Garnet Valley School District in Glen Mills, Penn., understands that families in today’s complex society need flexibility and options to meet their child’s individual educational needs. The district is constantly developing and improving our systems and structures for all students with the renewed focus on personalized learning for all students.

While Garnet Valley is home to one of the most robust, individualized professional learning (PL) programs around, we understood that having little experience with online learning required us to look outside our district for the expertise needed to fully train our teachers. After months of research and visits to neighboring districts and universities, we selected Global Online Academy as our partner to help us reimagine what a classroom for the future and learning should look like in our school district.

About the Author:

Samuel Mormando (@SamMormando) is the director of technology, innovation, and learning for the Garnet Valley School District in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Under his leadership, Garnet Valley has become recognized as a model for authentic and purposeful innovation focused on student achievement and student experiences. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in school leadership at Widener University.


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