“Blended Learning: Breaking Down Barriers” examines some of the most intractable challenges schools face in trying to use technology to improve teaching and learning—and how K-12 systems are attempting to clear those hurdles.
In simple terms, blended learning is a strategy to combine technology-based instruction with traditional, teacher-to-student lessons. And it exists everywhere in school districts these days.
Yet many schools find there’s a gap between what they aspire to accomplish with technology and what they can actually make happen. It’s a disconnect fueled by myriad factors, including students’ lack of Internet access away from school, teachers’ lack of confidence in using digital tools, and a murky research base for blended learning. The stories in this report explore schools’ efforts to find a way forward.
The report profiles districts’ attempts to extend Web access to students’ homes and communities. It offers examples of schools helping teachers master technology through peer coaching, and efforts to change the roles of librarians to meet schools’ digital needs.
Other stories debate the merits of giving individual schools greater autonomy to make their own ed-tech purchasing decisions—or leaving that power in the hands of districts’ central offices. The report examines a Chicago charter school designed from the ground up with blended learning in mind. And it dissects what the research says about blended learning—and the prevailing uncertainty about how to interpret the evidence that does exist.
Education Week’s hope is that these stories inform readers’ understanding of the vision and reality of blended learning, and offer ideas on how to resolve the questions schools confront every day.
Coverage of “deeper learning” that will prepare students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world is supported in part by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at www.hewlett.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the April 15, 2015 edition of Education Week as About This Report