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He is right. Researchers and school leaders asking that question are asking the wrong one. The question isn’t whether online or blended learning works—we have more than enough evidence (see here and here, for example) that it does in certain circumstances when done well. Equally so, just because a school adopts blended learning does not mean it will automatically achieve good results. A better question is how to do it well for different students in different circumstances.
This question matters—and receives far too short shrift. It is also among the questions that motivated Heather Staker and I to write our just-released book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. The book is meant as a practical design guide for educators to help them with the front end of creating sound blended-learning environments.
For example, from the get-go we seek to help educators avoid one of the biggest mistakes in implementing blended learning, which is deploying technology for its own sake, rather than to solve a meaningful problem or achieve an important learning goal.
Schools around the world are adopting blended learning to personalize learning, increase access and equity, and control costs. They want to create a student-centered learning system for all students, and blended learning is the most promising way to do so at scale. What the educators in those schools want to know are what are the right strategies and tactics to use so that blended learning boosts each student’s fortunes?
It’s not easy to get it right. When the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), the state of Michigan’s school turnaround district, launched in the fall of 2012 with 15 schools, hopes for rebirth in Detroit were high in many quarters. The system’s first superintendent, John Covington, adopted an ambitious blended, competency-based model for its schools powered by Agilix’s Buzz software. Has it worked? It’s complicated.
The Fordham Institute recently published an important report, Redefining the School District in Michigan, in which it discusses the competing evidence and details the EAA’s many travails.
Is the Technology 'Ready' for Blended Learning?