ON-Lion Letter

"Blended learning is a versatile teaching method that combines in-person instruction with online learning in the classroom, lab, or other work space including home," begins a recent report from the Education Policy Center (EPC) at the Independence Institute in Denver.  "When done effectively, blended learning enables teachers to automate activities such as testing, data analysis, and skills practice, thereby allowing them to focus on high-impact instructional strategies.  Blended learning also allows teachers to differentiate instruction and increase student interaction with academic content.  Although few studies have been conducted on the efficacy of blended learning, the research, including a 2013 RAND Corporation study, has found positive impacts."

The EPC paper by Krista Kafer focuses on "system-wide efforts in three Front Range school districts and a group of rural districts in the San Luis Valley.  The report also provides a list of state and national resources for schools and districts looking to implement blended learning techniques on a limited or system-wide basis and questions to consider prior to starting."

Kafer is a senior fellow at EPC, which is supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Blended learning implementation in the studied districts, according to her paper, "varies from the degree of centralization to the use of partner organizations to how districts are building on existing resources ....

"The scope of implementation and district strategies for covering costs, developing buy-in, using existing resources, collaborating, and handling other challenges vary considerably.  Still, the decisions to embark on blended learning all were motivated by a desire to improve student achievement, to give teachers additional instructional tools, and to take advantage of emerging instructional technology that can bring efficiency and potential cost savings.  Although still works-in-progress, the experiences of these early adopters offer a roadmap for other Colorado districts."

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