Blended Learning According to Education Visionary Tom Vander Ark

Evidence supporting blended learning is ensuring that it is here to stay. At the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference earlier this month, Tom Vander Ark of Getting Smart presented his recent report, “Blended Learning Implementation Guide.” For a comprehensive look at the report, click here.  Below are a few key points from his presentation.

Blended learning is beneficial for both students and educators
According to Vander Ark’s report, there are ten “drivers” that are leading the move to blended learning. Most would think all of these drivers are directed at students, but many of the drivers are focused on educators and the district. The ten drivers are:

  1. Improve ability to personalize learning
  2. Potential for individual progress
  3. Improve student engagement and motivation
  4. Shift to online state tests starting in 2015
  5. Need to extend time and stretch resources
  6. Potential to extend the reach of effective teachers
  7. Ability to improve working conditions
  8. Decrease device costs
  9. Student and parent adoption of learning apps
  10. Interest in narrowing the digital divide

Implementing a blended learning program is more than just providing tablets for students
Many schools fall for the misconception that once they buy their students devices, they have a blended learning program. A true, effective blended learning program requires not just a device, but also a plan.  Vander Ark reports that a good plan answers questions about how decisions will be made in six key areas:

  1. Strategy and timeline
  2. School models
  3. Platform and content
  4. Device
  5. Staffing and development plans
  6. Improvement and impact measures

In order to improve blended learning programs, schools must evaluate effectiveness
Just like with any other new program, it is important to evaluate newly-implemented blended learning programs. Vander Ark encourages schools to designate a program management team to help question the effectiveness of programs, remediate issues and document the process. The program management team should also be responsible for measuring the impact of the blended learning program. Vander Ark suggests that measurement be put on hold until the program is running smoothly to ensure accurate results.

What benefits or tricks have you uncovered by implemented your blended learning program? Share your comments below, on our Facebook page, or tweet at @PresenceLearn!