ON-Lion Letter
"More than a decade of research and development has produced sophisticated computer-based instruction, curriculum and assessment programs that have transformed online education from the textbook-like classes of yesteryear to the engaging, dynamic learning experiences of today," begins a July report from the Independence Institute (II) in Denver.  "These online tools combined with face-to-face instruction create what is known as blended learning.  Effective integration of technology can reduce the amount of time teachers spend on tasks like attendance, grading, data aggregation and analysis, and skills practice, thereby enabling teachers to focus on high-impact instructional strategies and personalized attention.  A well-designed blended learning program can even save schools money because computer-based instruction requires fewer on-site teachers and less classroom space.

"Colorado is well positioned to implement and test blended learning programs on a larger scale," continues The Rise of K-12 Learning in Colorado, by Krista Kafer.  "The state has abundant experience with online education, several non-profit blended learning support organizations, and philanthropic and government backing.  Several Colorado districts have invested in online courses, professional development for online and traditional classroom teachers, and state-of-the-art learning centers to better enable students to participate in online and blended learning classes.  Charter and district public schools have begun to implement blended learning models and have seen promising results."

Kafer is a senior fellow of II's Education Policy Center.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports II.

"In order to facilitate the development of blended learning, lawmakers should consider policy changes ...," the report recommends -- including, among others, "enabl[ing] per-pupil revenue to flow directly to schools and courses rather than first through the district central office" and "distribut[ing] funds based on multiple count dates rather the current single October 1 enrollment count, using average daily membership (ADM) rather than attendance."
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