It’s no secret that achieving scale is a challenge after establishing anything new, and that challenge is no stranger to starting online and blended learning programs. To address this concern, Getting Smart in partnership with Fuel Education, spoke with education professionals about the best approach to scaling a personalized learning program in a new white paper, “Six Lessons from the Trenches on Scaling Personalized Learning.” In the study, experienced online and blended learning educators share the six principle strategies for implementing a personalized learning program.
One key factor discussed is how schools and districts should approach growing online programs. When taking on something new, it is easy to get excited and want to jump into the deep end with both feet. However, the study’s expert educators urged caution against taking on too much too soon. Teacher Steve Cassity suggests that you, “Start small. Master it. Then expand.
Mr. Cassity, as well as other professionals, agreed that success was much more likely if growth occurred in the “stair-step approach,” focusing first on students who are struggling, either within a given course or because they need additional credits to stay on track to graduate, or have a need for more advanced courses the school doesn’t offer. According to the study, many successful programs have followed similar courses, focusing on credit recovery courses and advanced placement courses in an effort to ease into implementation. Taking this approach leads to slow, yet steady, growth while also allowing for the school community to acclimate to new technologies as well as an alternative methodology of instruction. Slow and steady growth can also contribute to an increased sense of confidence in the technology by students, teachers, and staff as they became more proficient with the tools.
Lesson Six in the paper is to reward and recognize success. While establishing a new program from the ground-up can be very rewarding, it is important to take the time to recognize and reward the successes of not only administrators and teachers but students and parents as well. By recognizing the successes you’ve had, the opportunity to build a strong community within the program will present itself, leading to an even stronger educational environment. For example, when speaking about school community and parent involvement, Dave Knoche, Principal of Springs Studio for Academic Excellence (formerly Falcon Virtual Academy), shared that a strong and involved parent community is key to student success. Mr. Knoche said, “We view parents as advocates for their kids…When parents are in the building, we don’t squash that. We want them right in the mix of it. They come. They learn with us.”
To read “Six Lessons from the Trenches on Scaling Personalized Learning” in its entirety, click here.