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COSN15: Dr. Alison Powell-A Blended Learning Roadmap: 6 Essential Elements

Dr. Alison Powell, Vice-President for State and District Services of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) spoke at the CoSN 15 conference on A Blended Learning Roadmap: 6 Essential Elements.

iNACOL focuses on blended, online, and competency-based learning. They "ensure that every student has access to a world-class education, regardless of geography, income or background." 

What comes to mind when you hear the term, "blended learning?" In the room there were many who hadn't implemented it at all. She shared some pictures and asked the participants whether they were examples of blended. Some looked like lecture, class discussion, group projects, small group instruction.

iNACOL's Definition: A formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path or pace.

Christensen Institute defines four models:

1. Rotation

  • Station Rotation
  • Lab Rotation
  • Flipped Classroom
  • Individual Rotation

2. Flex

  • Online platform with Face-to-Face support and fluid schedules

3. Self-Blended

  • Students attend physical school and take 1 or more courses online

4. Enriched Virtual

  • Students learn sometimes at school and sometimes online remotely

Tech Rich does NOT equal Blended! Blended is NOT about the technology! 
It's about changing the instructional practice, how time is used, how resources are allocated, personalized for all students to increase engagement, student centric, and teachers using data daily to customize learning for students.

iNACOL has identified Four Models:

  1. Technology Platforms (LMS, devices, infrastructure)
  2. People/Pedagogy and PD (Most importnt to Powell)
  3. Assessment (Online/Adaptive, Personalization engines, Performance Based)
  4. Online Content (Online resources, Tech Support, Registration, Counseling)
iNACOL worked on blended learning with a few schools in New York City and developed a Road map.

Successful Blended Learning Involves Six Elements:

1. Leadership
  • Clear goals need to be established and written.
  • Leadership determines sustainability and success
  • Collaborative leadership Style is essential
  • School culture of support and innovation
  • Ongoing Professional Development

School Implementation
Identified administrator/leader and teachers at each school
Ongoing interactions
Administrators, teachers and leaders work together towards the learning goals
Teachers need to feel safe!

Promissing Practice
  1. School Culture of innovation and empowerment
  2. Start Small and Build
  3. Communication w/ all stakeholders, parents

Leadership Questions:
  • What are the measurable goals?
  • What student needs are being fulfilled?
  • What support systems need to be built into the program?
  • What funding support needs to be there to sustain?
2. Professional Development

School Implementation
  • Both Formal and Informal PD (Schedule trainings 1:1 and customized, common release time)
  • Modeling, webinars, small conferences, workshops and cohort meetings
  • Implementation managers are key

PD Questions
  • What PD is needed for school leadership and blended learning teachers?
  • How will PD be delivered and who will provide?
  • How will ongoing PD be developed?

3. Teaching and Instructional Practices

School Implementation
  • Created Resources
  • Support for new Blended Learning Teachers-modeling and mentoring
  • Analizing real-time data to personalize learning

Promising Practices
  • Classroom Setup
  • Data Analysis (iNACOL: New tool coming)
  • Individualized Instruction
  • Student Engagement
  • Digital Content
4. Operations Management Systems and Policy
How does this change the school day?
Which state, district, and or local policies foster or inhibit accountability?
What data should be collected?

5. Content

School Implementation
  • Common Platform
  • Content providers to choose from
  • Professional development and teacher sharing about content provider and platform use
Promising Practices
  • Content Decision Making (Purchase or build your own?)
  • Customizable Platform-Many teachers using base curriculum and supplementing
  • Customizable for individual student needs.
Content Questions
  • Is content aligned to instructional goals?
  • How will content be aquired?

6. Technology

School Implementation
School leadership ensures its in place
(Others she skipped over)

Tech Questions
What tech is currently available? Including Infrastructure.

Powell says this is a 3-5 year implementation plan, with ongoing meetings needed to insure planning.
The roadmap includes observation forms and yearly benchmarks to ensure people are ready. It also includes a rubric on leadership, teacher and student roles and other topics.

The New York team developed this wiki to assist with blended. Looks like a good resource.

Powell concluded with this:
Erase what you think school looks like, start from scratch and do what is best for kids!


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