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Top 4 must-haves for online, blended learning

Many educators turn to online and blended learning solutions to offer alternative solutions for at-risk students

The most important attribute of a successful online or blended learning program is a “rigorous and engaging curriculum,” according to participants in a recent study.

The fourth annual Fuel Education (FuelEd) Benchmark Study, conducted by MDR’s EdNET Insight, also sheds light on why districts are turning to online and blended learning programs, their implementation best practices, and how they measure quality of an online program.

Those surveyed also said successful online and blended programs need the following:

  • presence of student progress tracking and reporting tools
  • measurement of student progress with initial and ongoing assessments
  • instructors who are well-trained in delivering online courses

According to statistics from the study, blended learning appears to be nearly twice as popular as fully online learning models. Of the 81 school leaders surveyed, 63 percent report using a blended learning model, while 37 percent are using fully online learning models.

The survey, which included 91 total participants, asked participants which factors led them to implement online or blended learning models. Seventy-nine percent of respondents said the primary factor was the need to provide an alternative for students who are not succeeding in traditional brick-and-mortar learning environments.

The next most-popular factors for implementing these programs included:

  • providing students with access to courses not available at their schools
  • giving students more flexibility for when and where they can access courses
  • providing a personalized learning experience

Surveyed educators also said two other factors prompted them to implement an online or blended learning program: the desire to retain students in the school or district, and the desire to improve graduation rates.

When asked how to effectively measure the overall quality of an online or blended learning program, school leaders cited the following three attributes as most important:

  • an engaging and highly interactive curriculum
  • demonstration of significant academic progress
  • high student attendance and active participation in the course

Ninety-two percent of responding districts use the district budget to fund their online and blended learning programs. Twenty-four percent use state funding and 21 percent use federal formula funding.

The report also offers district leader perspective to accompany data and statistics.

It highlights Bend-La Pine Schools in Oregon, a district that found the success of its online
and blended programs stems from progress monitoring, clear expectations, and persistent human interaction.

The district offers full-time online programs, supplemental online courses, and blended learning options.

“We cannot give enough credence to the value of human interaction,” says Tres Tyvand, the district’s student services coordinator, in the report.

For a copy of Fuel Education’s “Benchmark Study 2015: Best Practices for Implementing Successful Online Programs,” click here.


Material from a press release was used in this report.

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