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20 tips and features of blended learning programs

As more blended learning programs pop up, its benefits become more evident

blended-learningBlended learning programs are growing in popularity across the U.S., as more educators and students seek to personalize teaching and learning through education programs that combine face-to-face learning with online instruction and content delivery.

Research from Digital Learning Now! indicates that blended learning increases student and teacher productivity, and provides school leaders with “more and better data that creates an integrated and customizable learning experience.”

While creating more opportunities for students to use technology is a step in the right direction, blended learning advocacy groups maintain that to meet blended learning’s full potential, instructional practices, school schedules, student and educator relationships, and resources allocations must change.

(Next page: 6 blended learning features, 10 blended learning drivers, and 4 common steps)

Because moving to a blended learning format can be overwhelming for even the most organized school leaders, they should first outline learning goals, then decide on platform and content, and choose devices as a final step.

The top features of a blended learning program include:

  1. Content and apps are aligned with the Common Core State Standards
  2. Standards-aligned assessments and performance tasks
  3. Comprehensive learner profiles, including portfolios of student work
  4. Recommendation engines that consider learning level, student performance, and best learning ability
  5. Service economy including student, teacher, and school services
  6. Reporting functionality that provides actionable information and tools to manage a competency-based learning environment

Educators may find the 10 drivers of blended learning useful during planning and implementation:

  1. Improve ability to personalize learning
  2. Potential for individual progress
  3. Improve student engagement and motivation
  4. Shift to online state tests starting in 2015
  5. Need to extend time and stretch resources
  6. Potential to extend the reach of effective teachers
  7. Ability to improve working conditions
  8. Decrease device costs
  9. Student and parent adoption of learning apps
  10. Interest in narrowing the digital divide

While different blended learning models work for different schools, there are four common steps.

First, create conditions for success by securing stakeholder support and mapping out funding before the program launches.

Plan and make key decisions. These include implementation strategy and timeline, instructional models, platform and content, what goals devices should support, and what staffing and development will look like.

Implement, and ensure that certain keys to success are in place. Infrastructure, integration, professional development, IT support and implementation support, and communication are essential.

Improve on the blended learning program by outlining next steps for multi-year budgets and financial support, as well as measuring student outcomes and results.


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