Connecting dots of digital learning

10 Predictions and 20 Stories for Blended Learning

Michael Horn and Heather Staker from Innosight Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on education and innovation, gave 10 predictions for blended learning in 2013. (published on TheJournal) Some examples were given.

1. More Rotation Models at the Elementary School Level

2. More Self-Blending at the High School Level

3. More Flex-Model Prototypes

4. Growth in Enriched-Virtual Models Among Full-Time Virtual Schools

5. Software with “Groupinator” Functionality

  • Scholastic’s Read 180 Program includes a “Groupinator” tool that recommends optimal small groups for differentiated instruction.

6. Tablets Gaining Disruptive Traction

7. MOOCs Disrupting Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced middle and high school students are increasingly eyeing the chance to take physics from MIT or Shakespeare at Harvard. Next year this trend will accelerate.

8. Clashes Over Teacher Policies. 

Debates are brewing over how best to ensure teacher quality in blended-learning environments.

9. Increased Emphasis on “Learning To Do”

10. More Cramming of Technology into the Existing Model

More about Breakthrough Models for College Readiness

In October 2011, Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) issued a bold challenge to school developers and operators through the launch of a third wave of grant funding, Breakthrough School Models for College Readiness, which extended a prior wave of investment in Common Core State Standards–aligned digital content: We challenged districts and charter networks to imagine what the next generation of blended schools might look like.

Districts, charters, and school operators were eligible for up to $450,000 in funds, including an initial $150,000 planning grant and up to $300,000 in matching funds.

Key requirements:

Schools must serve students in grades 6–12, though not necessarily exclusively. At least 40% of students must be eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. The academic model must be designed to personalize learning for all studentsAt least 25 percent of all students’ core literacy and math learning time must be spent using high-quality digital content. At least 50 percent of instructional time must be delivered in a brick-and-mortar setting. The academic model must focus on mastery-based learning, as opposed to learning constrained to seat time.

blended learning

There are 20 stories of schools developed to meet NGLC’s underlying core principles.

  • Outcomes matter. What matters most is proven student achievement and a sustainable and scalable business model; new methods matter, but only if they deliver results against current metrics such as state tests in math and English language arts (ELA) and against emerging metrics designed to measure deeper learning and college readiness capacities, including the Common Core.
  • Education should be learnercentered and learning experiences should be engaging, freed from the confines of classrooms and campuses. Active, situated, and experiential learning improves engagement, problem solving, and achievement.
  • Students learn differently and advance at varying rates. The deliberate design of innovative approaches to student progression can accelerate the progress of students at both ends of the spectrum, those who struggle and those who learn with ease.
  • Within a context of increasingly high college- and career-ready expectations, technology can enable a personalized learning experience for all students. 
  • Technology-enabled breakthrough learning models can loosen the resource constraints of traditional models—time, human capital, budgets, and space. 
  • Rapidly and radically improving college readiness and completion requires the widespread adoption of proven models, practices, and processes. To be truly scalable and portable, models must be affordable and sustainable, driven by widely accepted academic and technological standards.

Those stories striving to personalize learning in different ways could bring inspirations to educators.

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