When It Comes to Blended Learning, Charter Schools Get Most of the Attention

Public school districts began innovating with blended learning before most charter schools. According to surveys that Brian Bridges has conducted in multiple states, including California where blended learning is growing rapidly, more school districts utilize blended learning than do charter schools. And the pace of innovation with blended learning is picking up within school districts nationwide.

Despite all this activity, the charter schools pioneering blended learning get far more attention for their innovations. There seem to be two reasons.

First, the charter schools that garner attention for blended learning have, in many cases, used it to transform their entire schooling model. In contrast, many district schools first used blended learning in the classic areas of nonconsumption in which disruptive innovations typically start, where the alternative was nothing at all. In this case that meant at the fringe of schools—in the advanced classes, foreign languages, and credit and dropout recovery options they couldn’t otherwise offer, for example. As blended learning has grown within district schools, it’s often been a bit more ad hoc—a class here, one subject there—than in many charters in which blended learning has become a core part of the school’s operations.

Second, the charter schools using blended learning and attracting attention over the years—from Rocketship to Carpe Diem and from KIPP LA to Summit Public Schools—have produced impressive student outcomes that are concrete and objective. Those clear and measurable results have been missing from many of the district schools adopting blended learning.

There are plenty of district schools though that have adopted blended learning and boosted student outcomes. It’s important to publicize the success these schools are having and understand what is driving it, particularly given that the majority of students in this nation will continue to receive their formal education in district schools. At the Christensen Institute, we partnered with the Evergreen Education Group to do just that: research and profile district schools with measurable positive student results from having adopted blended learning. We published the first of these reports recently as a series of case studies titled Proof Points: Blended Learning Success in School Districts. We’ll be releasing more profiles in the weeks ahead.

– Michael Horn

This is the first of three blog entries by Michael Horn on public school blended learning proof points. They first appeared on Forbes.com

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