- Andy Franko, superintendent for Colorado District 49's iConnect Zone, writes for eSchool News that while blended learning seems simple on paper, implementing it with sustained success is dependent upon a variety of factors.
- Sharing a number of best practices, Franko states that, as with any tech initiative, schools and districts must first consider infrastructure and budget for devices and improvement, along with ensuring the right teachers are in place and have been supported with ample professional development opportunities around the model.
- Additionally, he suggests starting students with the blended model as early as possible so they can develop the necessary amount of agency, ensuring parents understand the increased expectations under a model so heavily dependent on independent learning, and being sure your school or district can adapt its approach to specific needs are also key.
As longtime readers can attest, the importance of having solid infrastructure, budgetary planning and professional development opportunities for educators in place is universal across ed tech initiatives. If your school's network can't handle a 1:1 or even 2:1 device ratio before a blended learning effort is launched, you're going to have problems. And you'll need the budget in place to make the necessary upgrades ahead of time. Luckily, the FCC's e-Rate program can help with that.
But you'll also need enough in your budget to cover training teachers in effective pedagogical practices under a model where student agency is mandatory for success. If your blended model is also flipped, requiring students to take in lecture or reading material at home and then arrive in class prepared to discuss and work on assignments, the additional grading and one-on-one time workload will also need to be taken into consideration, as Bay Path University Associate Professor of Biology Thomas Mennella recently attested. And curriculum must also do more than just mimic the traditional approaches on a digital screen.
Simply put, while a blended learning program can boost outcomes, there's much more to consider than simply putting devices in the hands of students and teachers and calling it a day.