Blending Teaching and Technology: Simple Strategies for Improved Student Learning, showcases Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD). In this highly mobile rural district in California’s Central Valley, 86 percent of students come from low-income families and more than half are English language learners.
At LUSD, each of the 4,191 students receives a unique learning experience every day customized to his or her specific needs. Students no longer progress from grade to grade at the same rate regardless of whether they have learned all or any of the content. Instead, the district implemented a performance-based system (PBS) of progression that gives all students the time and support they need to become proficient in all academic content before moving to new instructional material. After deciding to implement a PBS, LUSD needed a new vehicle for delivering instruction and chose blended learning.
To reach this point, LUSD first needed a clear vision for what district leaders hoped to accomplish instructionally and a plan for how they wanted to change teaching and learning. To guide other school districts through this process, Future Ready Schools, an initiative of the Alliance for Excellent Education developed a research-based framework and five-step planning process to support school districts in leveraging digital learning strategies, like blended learning, that prepare all students for success in college, a career, and life.
“Effectively implementing a new instructional approach supported by blended learning requires more than online content and fancy devices,” the guide notes. “District leaders must identify the instructional goals and learning outcomes they want to accomplish to ensure that all students, particularly those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in postsecondary education, a career, and life. Once district leaders have a clear vision for how the district wants to transform teaching and learning, they can choose the blended learning strategies and related platforms, content, and devices that support those intentions.”
The guide notes that blended learning is not an end goal in and of itself—nor does it prescribe a specific instructional approach. Instead, educators can integrate blended learning strategies into a variety of educational models that prepare students for success after high school. LUSD illustrates that blended learning simply serves as the vehicle for delivering curriculum in innovative ways to achieve a district’s instructional goals and student learning outcomes.
Should a school district choose blended learning to support its instructional approach, the guide identifies potential challenges and opportunities the district may face and offers practical strategies for implementing blended learning aligned with seven key planning areas, known as the FRS “gears”:
- Curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- Personalized professional learning
- Budget and resources
- Community partnerships
- Data and privacy
- Robust infrastructure
- Use of space and time