blended learning future

5 education trends of the future catapulted by blended learning

A leading education researcher looks at the evolution of “a disruptive force that is increasingly changing how we teach and learn.”

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 3 of our April series on Blended Learning. Click here to read Part 1 on what makes a blended learning initiative fail. Click here to read Part 2 on what blended learning really looks like in the classroom.]

As blended learning practices are becoming more widespread, it is increasingly challenging to collect accurate data on the number of schools that have gone blended, but by examining student enrollments in online courses and edtech vendor data, we estimate the number of students engaging in some kind of blended learning to be approximately 9 million, which represents about 20 percent of K-12 student enrollment.

With so many students engaged in this mode of learning, it’s important to examine current trends and technologies to try and predict where blended learning could take students in the future.

The Evolution 

Trend 1: More student choice and responsibility for learning

As teachers and students grow accustomed to a given model, they may find opportunities to take the learning experience another level deeper. We’re seeing teachers who have been doing blended learning for a while starting to crave elbow room from strict, structured classroom choreography. As we recently profiled in our playbook on emerging teacher “moves,” a teacher who starts off “managing” a blended model may, over time, start to release more responsibilities to the students, such as determining their own pace or path through a curriculum unit. When teachers are more confident with their blended practice, they often realize they’re ready to take personalization in the learning process to the next level.

Trend 2: Digitization

The theory of disruptive innovation enabled us to predict years ago that blended learning would become the dominant instructional method in K-12 education, but that prediction could mean two very different futures. On the one hand, this could mean driving down the cost of delivering learning by merely digitizing our old, factory-based model of monolithic instruction.

(Next page: More future-looking trends)

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