With many schools now practicing blended learning, it can be helpful for educators interested in blended-learning programs to know which edtech tools are being used. For over five years, we at the Christensen Institute have been collecting data on blended-learning schools from around the world. In 2016, we launched our redesigned Blended Learning Universe (BLU)—a hub for resources and research, including a directory of schools practicing blended learning.
To date, the directory features nearly 600 school and district profiles that capture both quantitative and qualitative data. In their profiles, schools can share the ins-and-outs of their approach to blended learning including their instructional model, the grades and subjects in which they are rolling out blended approaches, and the software powering those models.
What are some of the most popular tools across our directory? Let’s take a look at 10 top edtech tools in blended schools.
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is one of the most well-known content providers on the web today. With hundreds of instructional videos and thousands of practice exercises integrated into a personalized-learning dashboard, Khan Academy helps teachers of almost any subject bring online learning into their classroom. Many of our BLU teachers often use Khan videos to supplement their instruction, as well as use the Khan dashboard to track individual student data to support differentiated instruction. Resources have been translated into more than 36 different languages, including Spanish, French, and Brazilian Portuguese.
To see Khan Academy in action, check out the BLU profile for Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California.
The eSchool News Online and Blended Learning Guide is here! It features strategies to help K-12 administrators and educators adjust to the sudden shift to online learning in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It also features best practices, resources, and tips for top-notch online and blended learning practices. A new eSchool News Guide will launch each month–don’t miss a single one!
Although not all schools using PowerSchool are blended, it’s the most common student information system (SIS) we’ve come across in the BLU. Schools use PowerSchool for a range of daily school operations: from scheduling, attendance, state compliance reporting, health management, and more. Additionally, the SIS integrates with PowerTeacher Pro, an online gradebook that allows teachers to share student data with parents.
To see PowerSchool in action, check out the BLU profile for Aiken Virtual Program in Alexandria, Louisiana.
3. NWEA MAP
Blended learning has the power to unlock competency-based education at scale, and formative assessment is a crucial piece of this puzzle. NWEA MAP is an assessment system used to track student growth and skill mastery. Like PowerSchool, plenty of schools using the assessment are not blending instruction. But for schools in our directory, blended-learning teachers tend to use NWEA MAP to measure student performance at regular intervals, which helps to rapidly identify pain points and tailor their instruction to help individual or groups of students based on specific needs.
4. ST Math
ST Math is a visual instructional program that aims to build a deep understanding of math concepts without having to use language. Importantly, this makes it more accessible to students not fluent or proficient in English. Teachers can use ST Math to create different pathways for each student based on her skill level, making it easier to provide differentiated instruction. Moreover, math teachers for grades PreK-8 can rest assured that all content is aligned to state standards.
To see ST Math in action, check out the BLU profile for Gilroy Prep School in Gilroy, California.
Yet another math program makes it into the top 10 most popular tools in our directory. ALEKS is an online math program that uses artificial intelligence to identify where exactly a student is in his understanding. BLU schools use ALEKS’s adaptive environment based on open-ended questions to pinpoint student progress along a personalized-learning path, which in turn helps teachers target instruction.
To see ALEKS in action, check out the BLU profile for Trailside Middle School in Ashburn, Virginia.
6. Illuminate Education
Another popular SIS in the BLU directory is Illuminate Student Information. Illuminate can support data creation, viewing, and sharing in one location. Administrators can create schedules and transcripts, and teachers can input attendance records and grades to be shared with student and parents. According to the BLU, schools and districts use Illuminate to streamline processes so that they can focus on their blended-learning practices.
To see Illuminate Education in action, check out the BLU profile for SPARK Lynedoch in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.
A K-12 reading and mathematics tool, i-Ready uses adaptive assessments to evaluate where a student is in her learning. Blended-learning teachers say they use i-Ready’s diagnostic tests to not only track a student’s growth over their entire primary and secondary education, but also practice data-driven, differentiated instruction. i-Ready offers aligned content that can allow teachers to personalize learning paths across students at various mastery levels.
To see i-Ready in action, check out the BLU profile for EPiC Elementary in Liberty, Missouri.
8. DreamBox Learning
DreamBox Learning is an adaptive, online math tool for students in grades K-8. Students work through lessons that include continuous formative assessment, which lets the software know where they are excelling and struggling, then adjusts the pace and placement of activities. Teachers use DreamBox’s Insight Dashboard that includes actionable data to identify gaps and create focused assignments for each student. All curriculum is standardized to the Common Core and state standards, and available in both English and Spanish.
To see DreamBox Learning in action, check out the BLU profiles for Anne Darling Elementary School in San Jose, California and Achievement First Bridgeport Academy Elementary School in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
9. G Suite for Education
G Suite for Education, formerly Google Apps for Education, is a bundle of productivity tools to help students and teachers manage their classwork. Like the SIS tools above, many classrooms may be using these tools without blending learning. That said, it’s a popular tool across blended schools as well. The suite comes with all the standard tools Google has to offer (e.g., Docs, Sheets, Calendar, etc.), but also comes with Google Classroom—a learning management system that teachers use to integrate their curriculum, assessments, and more. And although you can pay for an enterprise plan with more storage and a few more features, the G Suite for Education basic plan is free.
To see G Suite for Education in action, check out the BLU profile for Colégio Soter () in São Paulo, Brazil.
Although it offers a variety of products and services, Edgenuity is best known for its online curriculum. These courses, delivered by a virtual teacher-of-record, range from AP to electives to credit recovery in a wide range of subjects. Schools also use Edgenuity to offer credit recovery courses that are self-paced and customized for each student on a mastery-based plan.
To see Edgenuity in action, check out the BLU profile for Kaneland High School in Maple Park, Illinois.
Blended learning isn’t merely using an edtech tool layered onto a traditional classroom—it’s a fundamental shift in instruction powered by technology that gives students some element of control over their learning. Some tools—like SISs, productivity suites, and assessment systems—are used in blended and non-blended schools alike. That said, if you’re using one of these products in your classroom, there’s a good chance that you are already blending. See our visual guide to figure out what blended-learning model you might be implementing. To share which tools and models you are using, don’t forget to showcase your blended school profile on the BLU!
[Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on The Christensen Institute’s Blended Learning Universe blog.]
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