Utah leads in online learning

Utah is leading the way in digital learning, writes Matthew Ladner on Jay P. Greene’s Blog. A new state law based on Digital Learning Now’s Ten Elements of Quality Online Learning “funds success rather than just seat time, has no participation caps and allows multiple public and private providers.” The program starts for public high school students but then adds home-school and private school students.

Tom Vander Ark’s predicted “radical choice” at the lesson level,

We’ll soon have adaptive content libraries and smart recommendation engines that string together a unique playlist for every student every day. These smart platforms will consider learning level, interests, and best learning modality (i.e.,motivational profile and learning style to optimize understanding and persistence).

Smart learning platforms will be used by some students that learn at home, by some students that connect through hybrid schools with a day or two on site, and by most students through blended schools that mix online learning with on site support systems.

West Virginia’s state board of education has adopted the Digital Learning Now recommendations, writes Vander Ark on EdReformer.

Florida’s legislature passed a bill requiring high school students to take at least one online course. The law also ends the Florida Virtual School‘s monopoly on online classes.

The rise of K-12 blended learning

Blended learning —  adult-supervised online education, often mixed with classroom instruction — can personalize K-12 education, concludes an Innosight Institute report by Michael Horn and Heather Staker.

Online learning has the potential to be a disruptive force that will transform the factory-like, monolithic structure that has dominated America’s schools into a new model that is student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive, as it delivers dramatically better results at the same or lower cost.

The report looks at six blended learning models and profiles  that Rocketship‘s very successful San Jose charter school and the Carpe Diem charter school in Yuma, Arizona.

Horn and Staker translate the Digital Learning Now! campaign into policy proposals to “maximize the transformational potential of blending learning,” writes Bennet Ratcliff on edReformer.

Proposals include:

• Moving to a system where students progress based on their mastery of academic standards or competencies as opposed to seat time or the traditional school calendar;

• Lifting the rules around certification and licensure to let schools slot paraprofessionals or capable but non-state-certified teachers into appropriate assistive or instructional roles and enable schools to extend the reach of great teachers across multiple, geographically disparate locations;

• Creating funding models that allow fractional per-pupil funds to follow students down to the individual course, not just the full-time program;

• Tying a portion of the per-pupil funds to individual student mastery, whereby states pay bonuses when students achieve mastery at an advanced academic level or students realize the biggest gains between pre- and post-assessment (so as to incentivize programs to serve students who have historically struggled the most).

Letting students progress based on mastery rather than seat time really would be transformational.