This summer we’ve covered what’s wrong with our public school system, how we let it get this bad, how digital learning can be the solution, schools that are leveraging digital learning, and how parents can help their own kids get a great education. Learning definitely starts at home, so supercharging your own child’s education is key. But how can every child in your neighborhood have access to an excellent education through digital learning? How can your school become a leader in the digital revolution? We have a few ideas you could implement right away.
1. Offer courses through the Digital Learning Department. Washington’s Digital Learning Department has relationships with outstanding online content providers, and they’ve compiled an impressive catalog of more than 600 courses. Schools can give students access to this catalog by simply contracting with the DLD—and they do the rest. Imagine being able to offer not only French, Spanish, and German, but also Mandarin, Japanese, and Latin. You can go beyond Intro to Computers and let students explore Animation, Commercial Photography, Audio Engineering, or Video Game Programming. Have trouble staffing Advanced Placement courses? Through the DLD, students can access 105 different AP courses. These resources are already available. Schools only need to sign up. Visit the DLD’s websiteto learn more.
2. Flip a Classroom. “Flipped Learning” has taken the country by storm in the last two years. The concept is very simple: Instead of teaching a lesson during class time and doing homework after school, the teacher assigns an instructional video (either of themselves or someone else) as homework, and students do the practice (usually considered “homework”) in class.
What’s the advantage? When it comes to the instructional component, students can watch the video as many times as they need to
in order to grasp the concept. Teachers can also assign optional videos that provide background or content related to the new concept. In fact, some online video instruction providers (like Khan Academy and Virtual Nerd) automatically suggest related videos to students and provide teachers with a dashboard that shows which videos students are viewing, for how long, which ones they viewed next, and so forth. (MentorMob and TED-Ed are also great resources for customizable instructional videos)
Flipping the classroom also frees up class time for the teacher to interact personally with students. Instead of struggling alone after school on a concept they don’t understand, students can get immediate help from their teacher or other classmates. Meanwhile, advanced students don’t have to wait for the rest of the class. The teacher can simply assign more advanced videos and let them accelerate.
Schools around the country are seeing great success through flipped learning—and it’s not a difficult change to make. A single teacher can decide to flip their class, or the flip can happen school-wide. What’s more, it doesn’t require a lot of new technology or financial investment. View a great example of flipped learning at Clintondale High School in Michigan. Find more information here, here, and here.
3. Blend. Flipped learning is actually considered a form of blended learning, but there are several more. The Innosight Institute, a leading researcher on blended learning, defines blended learning as follows:
“Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.”
Innosight identifies four models of blended learning, with subcategories under those models. But for today, let’s keep it simple: Blended learning promotes personalization, important 21st century skill development, increased teacher attention (and satisfaction), high academic achievement, and potentially lower costs. It comes in many shapes and sizes, ranging from the school that looks only slightly different from a traditional school to the radically innovative model. So you can take a look at your school’s size, culture, needs, budget, etc. and create the blended model that works for you. Read Innosight’s full report and browse their dozens of blended school profiles for examples. (You can also learn more about blended learning in an all-new chapter for our recently updated Online Learning 101)
These are just a few suggestions in a world full of innovative education strategies. The tools and examples available today make it more doable than ever. Frankly, with such resources we have no excuse to stick to a failing status quo. Moreover, the digital revolution is customizable and can be as incremental as necessary. Bottom line: It’s time to get started. Flip a class, offer DLD courses, blend just one subject. Start somewhere, and become a digital leader. Your students will thank you.
[Reprinted with permission from the Freedom Foundation’s iLearn Project blog; featured photo credit: ]
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