Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace. Michael Horn and Heather Staker
Blended learning curriculum is one of many tools in the proverbial “tool-kit” to ensure all students are college and career ready. And as districts are increasingly encouraged to do more with less as financial constraints continue to stress the school system, innovation in the classroom is more important than ever.
Educate Texas is excited to announce the launch of our newest initiative, the Texas Teaching, Technology, & Innovation Fund or T3IF. T3IF is a dynamic and district-led initiative designed to achieve three things:
- Enhance instruction and improve delivery of curriculum,
- Foster a culture that supports individualized learning across students, teachers, district leadership, parents and/or partners, and
- Improve system structure and policy to allow for full implementation of blended learning practices.
It was important to us to target districts that were already actively planning to implement blended learning curriculum in the 2013-2014 school year and as a result we have engaged five districts including Coppell, Hays, McAllen, Rapoport and Spring.
These districts were invited to participate in a day-long blended learning workshop to learn first-hand about the different learning models and more importantly gain perspective on what learning model(s) will be fit their district’s unique needs.
We believe that the intentional integration of technology in the classrooms has the potential to improve learning outcomes, better prepare students for college readiness and 21st century skills, and allow schools to realize cost efficiencies and scale in more sustainable ways. We also believe that now is a critical time for us to explore different types of blended learning models. The promise of technology is only beginning to take shape. There is still much to learn related to its implications on teacher practice, scheduling, staffing and use of space. And we look to this opportunity to learn by doing.
Following the training, districts will participate in a Request for Proposal process at which point we will announce the leading districts (as many as three) in March and begin the implementation process.
Education Elements is a leading developer of blended learning solutions and as such has been selected as our partner in guiding this initiative. Education Elements helps schools design the right blended learning solutions for them, and works side by side with leaders and teachers to embed online content and data into daily instruction – an essential process we believe is key to the success of the districts.
We are thrilled at this opportunity and look forward to sharing our experience and that of the participating districts over the coming year. We believe this will be a great lesson in shaping next generation learning for the state of Texas. Stay tuned!
Education Elements is proud to partner with Educate Texas in its Texas Teaching, Technology & Innovation Fund, or T3IF, initiative. This exciting initiative seeks to support schools in improving instruction and in creating a culture that supports personalized learning for all students, as well as to eliminate policy barriers to blended learning implementation. Our experience working with 50+ schools across the country has demonstrated that in blended learning classrooms learning is personalized, instruction is differentiated and student achievement is increased. We are passionate about bringing these successes to more classrooms, and we look forward to collaborating with Educate Texas to expand blended learning programs in Texas.
Founded in 2010, Education Elements’ services include:
- Designing Blended Classrooms: We work with schools across the country and determine the instructional model that will work best for schools
- Selecting Content Providers: We use our expertise to curate content and help schools determine which online content providers will meet their needs
- Working with Teachers: We understand the needs of teachers and and provide high quality professional development upfront and throughout the year
- Hybrid Learning Management System: Our cloud-based technology platform pulls it all together
At a fundamental level, blended classrooms are different from regular classrooms in that they utilize online content and tools as integral aspects of instruction. While there is no single instructional model that will work for every school, below are three foundational models that are good starting points for most schools to begin planning:
- Lab Rotation: The lab rotation framework involves modifying the schedule so that students spend a portion of each day in a lab environment with online content and another period each day with the teacher.
- Classroom Rotation: The classroom rotation framework puts the learning lab described in the lab rotation model in the classroom. This framework keeps all students in their own classrooms, under the direction of the teacher who knows them and has insight into what students are learning online.
- Flex: The flex framework places all students in one large room, each with their own computer and generally an array of smaller rooms on the periphery. Students work independently in online coursework and teachers dynamically identify and pull small groups into breakout rooms to intervene or advance specific topics.
Regardless of the type of model, blended learning involves a number of benefits. First, educators are able to improve the amount and impact of instructional time and to maximize engagement by addressing the needs of every student. Second, educators are able to increase fidelity and responsiveness with frequent, data-driven instructional decisions. Finally, leaders are able to make sound instructional processes sustainable through effective use of technology.
Education Elements is thrilled that Educate Texas is taking on the important work of improving student outcomes through personalization. Educate Texas’s approach, with its focus on seeding innovation in districts across the state, has the potential to change outcomes not only for students in a single school or district, but for students across the entire state of Texas. We look forward to collaborating with the identified districts and their schools to help them achieve their goals, and to add to a growing portfolio of proof points for the state and the nation.