By Eric Wearne
As the research continues to try to keep up with the practice on online and blended learning, it can be useful to look at what the marketplace of ideas is producing in the real world.
Last week Education Sector profiled Alliance Tennenbaum Family Technology High School, a charter school in Los Angeles, and discussed the school’s use of technology to expand the reach of its teachers:
“The school uses a hybrid model that combines online and traditional instruction and allows students to learn in three different ways. On this particular fall day, 16 students are getting traditional in-person instruction in Algebra I from teacher Wendy Chaves; roughly the same number are doing math problems online; and still others are gathered in clusters of four tutoring each other… Computers allow students to achieve competency by letting them work at their own pace. And with the software taking up chores like grading math quizzes and flagging bad grammar, teachers are freed to do what they do best—guide, engage, and inspire.”
Whether this approach will lead to improved student outcomes is some thing that can be tested, and should be. But it is encouraging and helpful to see an example of what might be possible if school leaders are willing to experiment and to be entrepreneurial.
From a larger perspective, Digital Learning Now! recently released its “Blended Learning Implementation Guide.” This guide recognizes that “implementing blended learning is a complex project that changes roles, structure, schedules, staffing patterns, and budgets,” and so the guide is designed to “help leaders create the conditions for success in planning, implementing, and evaluating their blended learning efforts.”
Hopefully we will soon have many examples to add to Georgia’s Online Clearinghouse for these types of programs, but in the meantime, here are some of the Alliance Tennenbaum school’s students, teachers, and administrators explaining how their school works.
(Eric Wearne is an Assistant Professor at the Georgia Gwinnett College School of Education. Previously he was Deputy Director at the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.)
As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.