By Eric Wearne
Much research has been done over the past few years on the idea of “blended” or “hybrid” learning. Students in these models attend class part of the time, and learn online part of the time. One school in Georgia is taking some of these ideas and trying to create a program that implements a hybrid system in a traditional public school setting.
South Forsyth High School is in the planning stages of such a program, and recently held an event that drew over 100 parents and students. Currently, the school is surveying its juniors to gauge interest and seeking applications from students who would like to participate next school year. A SFHS hybrid student’s week would look something like this:
South Forsyth’s program will still be fairly structured, but it is a step in the direction of allowing students more freedom with their time and an attempt to better serve their individual interests. If nothing else, it is also good scaffolded practice in time management, as many of these students prepare to leave the rigid bell schedule/cattle call of 13 years of schooling for a much more varied schedule in college. The program is not scheduled to start until the 2014-15 school year, but given the number of people who seem to be interested, and given the rewards of time, flexibility, and a much more personalized work environment, the program seems likely to take off.
The school could benefit in other ways as well; if the students in such a program physically attended on different days, the same school building could conceivably serve more students (and reduce or eliminate trailers). This program is one of many possible answers to how schools could individualize instruction and more efficiently use their time and space, but SFHS should be lauded for its willingness to experiment.
(Eric Wearne is Assistant Professor at the Georgia Gwinnett College School of Education and a senior fellow for education policy at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.)