Why Blended Learning? A Look at the Benefits…

June 5, 2014

 

Thursday, June 5, 2014 - 1:00am

Over the next few months Fuel Education will release a series of short webinars, called Pitstops, designed to provide guidance for educators, schools and districts about online learning and personalized learning platforms. Our first Pitstop focused on student assessments. The next series of Pitstops will take a look at the five steps required for implementing a blended learning program.

However, before diving into HOW to implement a blended learning program, we felt it was best to first look at WHY you would want to implement a blended learning program.

Blended learning environments utilize online learning programs, in conjunction with traditional instruction in brick-and-mortar classrooms, to give the student added control of when and where they digest educational content and better learn at their own pace. These two modalities are integrated to ensure that each student receives the time and special attention needed to learn and retain the content.

When implemented, these blended learning programs can deliver the following benefits:

Blended learning can improve student outcomes.
Blended learning programs offer students individualized, personalized learning and provide a differentiated educational experience. With blended learning, educators are able to meet students where they are and provide the unique learning experience that they need.

This benefit was highlighted by Fredrick L. Hickmon, Ed.D., the Principal of Choctaw Central High School, which is located on the Choctaw Indian Reservation in Choctaw, Mississippi. When asked about the ways online learning is being used to benefit students, he replied, “One of the primary ways we assist our students in meeting their education goals is by personalizing learning and enabling credit recovery. Online credit recovery programs allow students to accrue the credits they need to meet an on-time graduation goal without additional time in school. The programs can be accessed at home, in our after school program, or during our 6th and 7th period classes.”

Blended learning can provide a cost savings.
Educators can cost-effectively offer a course that interests only a small population of the student body in a blended learning center. Blended learning allows educators to expand their course catalog without significantly increasing their budget.

A great example is how the Spring Branch Independent School District in West Houston, Texas, has added world language classes. According to Joel Smith, the eLearning Facilitator for the Spring Branch Independent School District, “We may have three or four students a semester interested in a course, but needing different levels of it—such as Mandarin 2 or Mandarin 1. This makes it difficult to justify the addition of a dedicated staff member to teach a particular subject. Utilizing online learning, we’re able to offer a Mandarin course with outside teachers that we would not have been able to affordably staff with our own teacher for such a small number of students.”

Blended learning can provide personalization.
Students have unique learning needs, and through blended learning, they are able to experience personalized learning and receive the one-to-one instructional assistance needed to succeed.

According to Dr. Lisa Collins, the Senior Director for Instruction and Training at our sponsor, Fuel Education, “Online education allows differentiation if you’re working in a group. Let’s say you’re in a lab setting and all students are working on math. You can bring online learning into that classroom and allow it to be personalized to each of those students. It doesn’t matter if one is working on fractions, one is working on decimals, and one is working on basic addition. They all are working on math at the same time, but the teacher can give them online lessons that are personalized to each student’s skills.”

Blended learning can be an education equalizer.
Regardless of whether students live in a rural or urban community, a blended learning program can provide access to the same courses. Districts in rural areas can dramatically—and cost effectively—expand their catalog so students don’t have to worry about courses not being available.

The role blended learning can play in leveling the playing field for schools and students is on display in the Evergreen School District in Clark County, Washington. According to Dr. Ted Feller, the Executive Director of Secondary Education for the Evergreen School District, “We provide four different world language programs—Mandarin, Spanish, German, and French—to all six of our middle schools. In total, 235 students earned high school world language credits this past year, putting them ahead of the game before they even enter high school. It’s probably our biggest success as of right now. The world language program enabled the district to go from no world language in our middle schools to 235 students earning high school credit.”

By enabling a more personalized educational experience, leveling the playing field, bringing learning to the student and enabling catalog expansion at a fraction of the cost, blended learning is truly revolutionizing education today.

For actionable insight into how you can create a blended learning environment, be sure to watch our upcoming Pitstop series on implementing a blended learning program.

 

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