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Sunday, March 17, 2013

'Facebook meets the classroom'

Blended learning expands options for students.

"In North College Hill High School’s library, junior Gracie Carver-Dews recently finished a class project, designing a video game in which a frenetic birdlike creature jumps onto blocks to grab at coins", reports

Next to her in class, junior Anthony Ledgyard finished assignments in Latin I and his Human Body class, both of which he takes online, hoping they’ll someday help him get into medical school.

Elsewhere in the building, social studies teacher Keith Spangler squeezes his first online class, psychology, in between his regular classes.

“I describe it as Facebook meets the classroom,” said Spangler, who teaches 26 students from around the country online.

“A very key cog in the whole process is collaboration among the students online ... I don’t think it replaces face-to-face classes, but I know this online stuff is here and is only getting bigger.”

North College Hill, a district of mostly low-income students, is wading into a national educational trend called blended learning, which marries traditional classroom instruction with online learning and assignments. And it is spreading to all kinds of schools – public and private, higher education and K-12 grades – as educators face societal and governmental pressure to increase the use of technology while getting students ready for college or a career.

More than 15 schools and districts in the region are trying blended learning. Many are just getting started, but it’s clear that blended learning comes in many flavors.