Today, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), shared its findings of a joint research partnership between the Idaho Digital Learning Academy (IDLA) and Northwest Nazarene University on how blended learning impacts students in rural parts of Idaho.
The need for effective blended learning environments – the best of face-to-face and online learning, coupled with tools driving continuous assessment of progress and personalization of content – is on the rise throughout the United States. While the growth of blended learning programs is prevalent in urban and suburban centers, the need is no less great in rural areas.
The report is titled, Transforming K-12 Rural Education through BlendedLearning: Barriers and Promising Practices.
The review highlights three key points:
The positive impact that blended learning has on those teachers who choose to incorporate emerging models of practice into their classroom environments,
A correlation between the opportunity for self-pacing and the quality of a student's work and perseverance, and
The importance of comprehensive teacher training for blended and online learning environments.
Susan Patrick, President and CEO of iNACOL, said, "The promise of blended learning to provide a highly personalized experience for each student is not restricted by the geography in which a student lives. The emerging practices and real-world barriers found within this report offer a valuable look at transformation through blended learning in action and show the field both where we are and where we need to move."
For this report, co-authors Eric Werth, Ph.D., Lori Werth, Ph.D. and Eric Kellerer, Ed.D. of Northwest Nazarene University's Doceo Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning surveyed teachers working with students ranging from early childhood to 12th Grade, with a great majority of them (73.3 percent) teaching in Idaho's rural school districts.
Dr. Cheryl Charlton, CEO for Idaho Digital Learning, said, "For more than a decade, IDLA has strived to provide students throughout Idaho with access to high-quality, highly flexible educational options. This research reflects lessons learned in designing effective blended learning models and deepens our commitment to the countless benefits that personalized learning brings students and teachers."
Here are some of the key findings from their report:
65.4% of teachers said students were more motivated to participate in class because of blended learning.
87% of teachers found communication between parents and teachers, between students and students, and between teachers and teachers was the same or better after the use of blended learning.
77.5% of teachers indicated that their ability to monitor student learning was either better or much better with blended learning.
The report states, “Teachers indicated that the use of blended learning improved their ability to be innovative, assisted them in monitoring student learning, and allowed greater opportunity to provide 1-on-1 instruction. Strong correlations were found between allowing student self-paced learning, a teacher’s ability to be innovative, providing resources to those who miss class and/or who struggle, and students’ ability to locate resources on their own and important educational outcomes such as student interest level, perseverance, motivation, time on task, excitement, attendance and a teacher’s overall enjoyment of teaching.
“Those who had utilized blended learning cautioned that those beginning a similar endeavor to expect the project to take time and that there will be initial struggles that need to be persevered through. These individuals suggested that teachers build lesson material as they go and seek formal and informal training whenever possible. A number of respondents indicated that while it may seem time-consuming and difficult at first, the benefits later greatly outweigh the cost.”
You can read the full report online to learn more about what teachers said about blended learning and the barriers they face in implementation.