Does Blended Work? – The 4Ps of Evaluating Your Blended Program’s Effectiveness

Does Blended Work? – The 4Ps of Evaluating Your Blended Program’s Effectiveness

I often get asked about the effectiveness of blended learning. Educators, from classroom teachers and building administrators, to district curriculum directors and superintendents want to know, “Does blended learning work?” What they are really asking is, “Can I be confident that adopting blended classrooms and/or digital curriculum will improve student learning?” I don’t blame them. Budgets are tight. Time is precious (including addressing professional learning needs).  Yet, no one would ever ask, “Is learning in a K-12 environment actually effective?” However, in today’s highly technological world, digital learning is a life skill that schools must adopt.  So, the better questions are, “What can we do to teach effectively in a blended learning environment?” and “How do we know it’s working?” The answers will be subject to the interplay of media, method, and modality (great video!). When seeking a return on investment (ROI) for blended learning, one must first have a vision for what blended classrooms should look, act, and feel like. Like the multifaceted education system and the numerous teaching strategies deployed in countless classrooms across the nation, the answer lies in this very same systems complexity and variability in performance. The Carnegie Foundation reminds us that it takes a multi-layered approach of using improvement science to accelerate learning and address problems of practice. When seeking an answer to ““How do we know blended learning is working,” consider breaking the measures of evaluating blended learning effectiveness into four different data sources, which I like to call the 4Ps: Performance (outcome measure) – Are student outcomes improving (and for whom)? Student achievement data.Pedagogy – (process measure) Is classroom instruction changing...
Hiring for Jobs to be Done 

Hiring for Jobs to be Done 

Clay Christensen writes of the Theory of Jobs to Be Done, “When we buy a product, we essentially ‘hire’ something to get a job done… People don’t simply buy products or services, they ‘hire’ them to make progress in specific circumstances.” Understanding the “job” for which one is hiring for will benefit the client in selecting the right product and service in need and maximize its fullest potential. When developing a digital learning program, it’s key to align our true priorities with the proper product and service. Just as important, is to ensure appropriate staff professional development when changing classroom pedagogy. Using online content and tools has become a regular appearance in the nation’s K-12 classrooms. Many different deployment methods have been utilized – often lumped into a single category of ‘digital learning.’ However, in the landscape of the classroom, when technologies are brought into the fold, not all programs are created equal. Especially in the eyes of the ever watchful National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), who is concerned when schools develop non-traditional learning programs. Thus it is important to note the various types and degrees of digital learning environments that are being offered to students. The table below attempts to describe the various digital learning deployment programs, in degrees from non-traditional fully online learning, to the traditional classroom’s utilization of digital content (e.g. content area instruction) and tools (e.g. productivity software and apps) to enhance student success and engagement. What is your digital learning vision? What deployment program best describes the ‘job to be done?’ Knowing the answers to these questions will help you seek the best products...
Curriculum Mapping for Blended

Curriculum Mapping for Blended

In the CIA of blended learning model, teachers work in tandem with digital curriculum to provide a personalized learning environment for each and every student. Like any good partnership, one needs to test the waters, look for strengths and weaknesses, and find how the two of you complement each other. This is also true when selecting and working with digital curriculum in a blended learning classroom. When adopting digital curriculum for blended personalized learning, it’s important to consider what the digital curriculum is bringing to the partnership. Don’t get hung up on what it does not bring. When you think of other partnerships in our lives, like your spouse or kids, they are not perfect. You may find that these partners didn’t put the dishes in the dishwasher the way you would have, but the dishes got washed. Or they may not have mowed the yard the way you would have, but it got done. The same is true with digital curriculum. Just because it’s not the way a teacher would have instructed, students are still exposed to the curriculum. By releasing a little bit of control to the digital curriculum, teachers now have more time to guide instruction with an eye on grade level power or essential standards. Use a curriculum map when planning. Start small. It’s better to eat an apple one bite at a time, rather than shoving the whole thing in your mouth. When partnering with digital curriculum, classroom teachers should work in bite size chunks. For example, look at one unit of study at a time, rather than the whole semester or school year....
Partnering with Digital Content

Partnering with Digital Content

It’s that time of year again, when students are excited to meet their new teachers and staff are busy preparing classrooms. It’s important to kick the school year off on the right foot. One that can lead to excitement, innovation, and higher student gains. As the saying goes, “We can’t keep doing the same thing, and expect different results.”   It’s time to consider partnering with digital content. When teachers utilize digital curriculum, it is like having an aide in the classroom – one for each and every student. In the CIA of blended learning model, teachers partner with digital curriculum to help deliver Depth of Knowledge one and two (DoK 1-2). This frees time in the day for the teacher to work differently. They no longer have to provide all content. Classroom teachers need to partner with the digital curriculum and allow it to do what it is best at – creating an individualized learning space for each student. Again, the technology is good only at a low level of understanding, DoK 1-2.   Releasing control to another is a big ask, I know. Think about other partnerships you have in your life. Take your spouse or kids for instance. They may not put the dishes in the dishwasher the way you would, but it gets done. They may not fold the clothes the way you might, but again it gets done. Teachers may find that the digital curriculum does not instruct the way they would have, but it will get done. And just like you may walk behind your spouse or kids and rearrange the dishes, or...
Paving a Path to Personalized Learning

Paving a Path to Personalized Learning

The value of a word, not it’s definition, but the word itself can make a difference. Take personalized learning. This is a word that is thrown into every educational conversation, yet does it have a single meaning, or is the definition determined by the individual who hears or uses it. Think for a moment of how you would define personalized learning. What characteristics and elements are essential? Does digital devices, or digital content rise to the top? In 2014, Education Week published a working definition of personalized learning, developed by some of the most respected minds in the field such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Christensen Institute, iNACOL, the Learning Accelerator, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and many others. The four-part “working definition” included: Competency-based Progression: Each student’s progress toward clearly-defined goals is continually assessed. A student advances and earns credit as soon as s/he demonstrated mastery. Flexible Learning Environments: Student needs drive the design of the learning environment. All operational elements – staffing plans, space utilization, and time allocation – respond and adapt to support students in achieving their goals. Personal Learning Paths: All students are held to clear, high expectation, but each student follows a customized path that responds and adapts based on their individual learning progress, motivations, and goals. Learner Profiles: Each student has an up-to-date record of his/her individual strengths, needs, motivation, and goals. Imagine doing all of this without technology. Sure, personalized learning can take place absent from digital learning, but it would be difficult, and why would you not take advantage of the tools of today – like devices and...