Each year Fuel Education partners with EdNET Insight to conduct a nationwide survey to gain a better understanding of best practices in online and blended learning. The 2014 survey found that “blended learning continues to be a more popular model than fully online learning,” and that it is gaining momentum each year as the optimal blend between traditional teaching and online curriculum.
Just take a look at PSD Global Academy in Fort Collins, Colorado. We had the chance to speak with Principal Heather Hiebsch back in April about the success of their optional blended program. Based on the program’s achievements, Hiebsch decided that the school would be a fully blended environment, with students spending three days per week in online instruction and spending two days on campus participating in community building projects in addition to practical and hands-on activities. Hiebsch’s actions paid off this year as PSD Global Academy was ranked in the top 5% for test scores in the state for any type of school—including brick and mortar as well as online and blended schools.
Blended learning also offers the advantages of pacing and schedule flexibility. For example, 79% of district respondents said that a student’s ability to control the pacing of instruction was an important factor in an effective personalized learning experience. Other important factors included flexibility in the time of day that students can take the course and the ability to receive instructional help whenever it is needed (day or night).
While educators have always been aware that students learn in different ways, it can be difficult to meet every student’s needs within the traditional classroom. However, in a blended learning environment, there’s more flexibility to accommodate different learning styles since the teacher has evolved into a facilitator, connecting students with the resources they need—when they need them—to learn successfully.
This level of flexibility is proving integral to student success. According to Joel Smith, eLearning Facilitator at Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas, “Sometimes teachers and students do not always match up. With blended learning, the teacher and technology play complementary roles. Students gravitate to what better fits their learning styles and interests at the moment.”
If you would like to read more highlights from the survey, such as how teachers can transition to the online environment, click here.