The International Association for K-12 Online learning, or iNACOL, identified blended learning as an emerging trend in 2010. The phrase “blended learning” can be a bit confusing. Their definition is as follows:
Blended learning is any time a student learns, at least in part, at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, path, and/or pace.
A report from The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning, authored by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Innosight Institute labels six types of blended learning approaches:
• face-to-face driver programs where teachers deliver most instruction in a live classroom and use online activities to supplement or remediate what goes on in the brick-and-mortar school;
• rotation models where students follow a schedule that alternates between face-to-face class sessions and in-person instruction;
• flex formats where most of the curriculum originates online, but an on-site instructor provides instruction as needed in individual and small group sessions;
• online lab sessions where students do work online, but in a computer lab at a brick-and-mortar school with aides who offer supervision but little subject guidance;
• self-blend schools where students may take online courses a la carte to supplement their brick-and-mortar school’s curriculum; and
• online driver constructs where students receive most of the course online and independently, but participate in required or optional face-to-face meetings.
So, what are we doing here in Thompson with blended learning?
First of all, we are starting small and expecting to grow fast! We have been working with Boulder Valley School District on a combined Enhancing Education Through Technology (E2T2) grant to pilot blended learning in a Learning Management System (LMS) called BrainHoney. We have approximately ten teachers in three high schools that will be using blended learning in their classrooms. These teachers will be mainly using the first learning approach of face-to-face. With the predicted success of this program, we are making plans to enable this capability (over the next year or two) of using an LMS to any teacher in the district that desires it.
Secondly, we are working with the Curriculum and Instruction Department to provided Professional Development to our teachers through the LMS. Teacher trainings in the areas of Math, Literacy and Technology are already “in the works”, and will have an online driver, as well as face-to-face components. This program will also be using BrainHoney as the LMS.
Thirdly, we are working on moving the content from our online school, Thompson Online, into BrainHoney. The online school uses a combination of the online driver, online lab sessions and flex formats to meet the needs of students that prefer on online environment for their educational experiences. For additional information about Thompson Online, please contact Kellie Bashor, Thompson Online principal.
In addition, we are working with a publishing company to provide a rotation model of blended learning in Math in one of our middle schools. Although the i’s haven’t been dotted, nor the t’s crossed, we are hoping to have this phenomenal product and learning environment available starting 2nd semester of upcoming school year!
Although, I stated that we are starting small, you can see we have many projects addressing the growing trend of blended learning. We feel that this is truly where the future of learning is leading education and are making a strong stand to help our teachers and students become, even more, successful.