“Blended learning” — a mix of virtual and face-to-face instruction — is all the rage, endorsed by a 2009 Education Department meta-analysis. Education Week looks at how it works.
“Everybody’s talking about blended, but you talk to ten different people, and there are ten definitions of what it is,” said Steven Guttentag, the executive vice president and chief education officer of the Baltimore-based Connections Academy, which operates online schools in 21 states.
At the Chicago Virtual Charter School, a partnership with K12 Inc., an e-learning company, “each student spends two hours and 15 minutes in a classroom one day a week and spends the rest of the school week working virtually from home.” Students, who are in kindergarten through 12th grade, meet with the same teacher online and in the classroom.
The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) uses several models. In one, students meet in a classroom or computer lab to learn from an online instructor. A site facilitator monitors students, solves technical problems and answers basic questions.
In another model, a site facilitator works with students who are all taking the same online class to set up experiments, for instance, or help with collaborative, in-person activities.
In yet another approach, online instructors can team up with face-to-face teachers to co-teach a course, said Ms. Young.
Although that model is more expensive for schools, “it’s a really awesome opportunity for teachers who are new to the profession or new to the subject area,” she said.
While students receive the benefit of being taught by an experienced online instructor, the in-person teacher simultaneously receives training in how to teach the course.
Louisiana Virtual School pairs an uncertified, in-class math teacher with an online certified Algebra 1 instructor. The two teachers meet face to face during the summer, then communicate daily through e-mail during the school year.
The online instructor provides the initial lesson, and the classroom teacher works with students to complete activities that reinforce the concepts.
The in-class teacher also monitors the classroom activity labs with students; they break into groups of three or four and work together to complete a lab. The results of the lab are then sent to the online instructor for review.
Iowa Learning Online, which is run by the state, requires a school district employee, usually a teacher, to serve as a learning coach for each online student.
In another story, Ed Week looks at state efforts to certify virtual educators, even though “research shows that the true test of how well teachers will do in an online environment is still largely their effectiveness in a traditional classroom.”