When making a decision to implement or expand a blended learning program, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the vast amount of information available. The number of vendors offering online curriculum and instructional services grows every year. So, how do you make a decision on which one to use? How do you sift through all the material on your desk and finally make a choice?
Just Do It
Here are some steps to help you cut through the clutter when selecting a blended learning provider:
Step 1: Decide Your Focus
What do you hope to accomplish through implementing blended learning in your school or district? Write down your goals.
Step 2: Research Your Choices
Learn what the top companies have to offer. Does the company's stated focus align with the focus you identified in step one? What tools, apps, and widgets are available? How does the program allow you to measure success? Don't be afraid to go beyond what the sales representative shows you. Research the company online. Can you find a great record of customer support? Are user reviews positive or negative? Make a list or create a mind map of all the features and the pros/cons for each provider to help you visualize the path toward your decision.
Step 3: Keep Implementation in Mind
How is this product launch going to impact teachers, staff, and students? How much professional development is needed? What about the investment in hardware? Ask questions of a sales representative and write down his or her responses next what you wrote in step two.
Step 4: Ask for Input from Others
Identify digitally inclined teachers and ask for their input during the decision making process—you don't have to make the decision alone. Get their reactions to each company's sales materials—and then write down their thoughts next to the steps mentioned above.
Step 5: Go Ahead and Rate It
Give a numeric rating to each provider you are researching. Have the teachers who provided input also provide a rating. Tally all the numbers. Use the sum to inform your decision.
Step 6: Listen to Your Intuition
At this point you should have either a clear front runner, or only a few options left on your desk. If the former is the case, congratulations—decision done! If the latter more resembles your situation, then making the final decision will take a leap of faith with your own intuition. Listen to that good gut feeling you have about a certain company and go with it.
Don’t wait another school year to bring your instructional package into the digital age!
About the Author
Jerry Brodsky is a retired superintendent of the Aurora City Schools, Aurora, OH, and chief executive manager and lead consultant for American Educational Consultants. In his 35 years in public education, he has been a math teacher, guidance counselor, as well as a middle school and high school principal. Jerry’s consulting work has included several prominent charter and online schools.