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Blended Learning Questions Answered: Part III

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 -- Jasmine Auger

So far in our blended learning series, Edmentum’s virtual program manager Tony Skauge has answered frequently asked questions regarding what blended learning is and how to get started planning your program. Now that you’ve got those foundational questions answered, it’s time to dig into how to actually implement your blended learning program. This can be the most intimidating piece of the puzzle, but don’t let worry derail you! There are lots of resources and tools available to bring all of your hard work and planning to fruition.

To help, we’ll wrap up this series by sharing Tony’s answers to three commonly asked questions about the implementation process. Use these tips and tricks to get your blended learning program off to a successful start!

  • What is the most common blended learning implementation model that school districts utilize?

This is a question that I get quite frequently, and I always recommend that educators keep in mind that each implementation is unique. That said, I do see more elementary and middle school blended learning implementations focus on Rotational models such as Station Rotation and Lab Rotation, while high schools tend to use a different Rotational model, Flipped Classroom, and the À la Carte model. Institutions that are doing a great job of implementing blended learning models and strategies have all taken the time to focus on program planning and to set goals and metrics for the initiative as a whole prior to rolling out the full implementation.

  • We are beginning to implement a Flex model of instruction at our site and are offering students the ability to take online courses for the first time. What tips or tricks do you have for instructors as they begin to support students?

I would begin by recommending that all of your instructors are fully trained on the platform(s) that they are helping to support, as training will serve to not only familiarize them with the technology but also give them much-needed confidence when working with students. I would also recommend that you help your instructors set expectations for progress monitoring within the courses. In my experience, instructors who regularly communicate with students regarding their progress in online coursework see much more student success and can act as a guide and even as a cheerleader for students as they move through their courses. Meeting weekly, or even daily, with your students in online courses can also have a tremendous effect on overall student success.

  • My teachers do not have a lot of time to work as teams, and I am hoping that implementing blended learning strategies may help. What strategies do you suggest using to give my instructors more time to work as a collaborative group?

This is a great question, and I feel that instructor collaboration is a crucial aspect to overall classroom success. One site in particular that I have worked with that had excellent instructor communication and collaboration utilized the Lab Rotation model to support its middle and high school students. This model allows for instructors to focus on their specific skill sets (i.e., algebra, science, etc.) and still operate as a part of the larger “student success team” to ensure that students are making progress. Instructors would have time set aside each week to work across disciplines to reinforce common themes and share data derived from their online-learning platform to make both individual and grade-level instructional decisions. Implementing this Lab Rotation model really allowed for instructors to collaborate in new and creative ways that ultimately led to further student success.

When the time for implementation comes around, be sure to take time to review your program plan and have open discussions with both teachers and students. This will ensure that you have a holistic view of the program and help to highlight any problem areas. And, while it is important to look for areas in need of improvement, it is also important to celebrate areas of success! See what is working for students and why, and be sure to give your staff recognition for their hard work during this transition period.

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum can help get your blended learning initiative started? Take a look at this overview of our online solutions, or speak to a blended learning solution specialist today!