I know, summer is here for some and ALMOST here for others, but I just finished reviewing a great study released by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation on the effectiveness of blended learning.  The study is an interesting read and has a little something for everyone.

Here are some highlights:

  1. Technology problems impacted programs throughout the study.  Specifically, “Unreliable Internet connectivity, inadequate bandwidth, and problems with software programs hindered many schools’ ability to implement their models.”  This highlights the importance of good decisions made on hardware and software platforms as well as infrastructure.  Blended learning environment decisions go well beyond curriculum!
  2. Good old-fashioned learning strategies help students work for success in this environment.  I was particularly struck by the notion that weekly goal setting helped students succeed in the environment.  “According to a majority of the administrators, teachers, and lab monitors interviewed, weekly goal-setting helped students to become more   invested in their learning and to see both the rewards of meeting goals and consequences of failing to meet them.”  It reminds me of how true things like the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” remain, even in a digitally enhanced world.
  3. Advanced students seem to benefit the most from these environments.  This is a challenge for those that dream of using technology, blended learning and online learning to engage those that don’t seem to find success in more traditional learning environments.  “The models were   possibly less effective for students whose academic work was below their expected grade level. In addition, many teachers interviewed felt a student’s ability to self-manage and self-direct their learning   determined which children would most likely thrive in a blended learning model.”  This also confirms my own informal observations of those that are more successful in online learning environments.

Overall, this study doesn’t make any broad pronouncements for or again the model, but, does provide some intriguing fodder for discussion.

Enjoy the read!

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