PRESENTATION OUTLINE: Using Blended Strategies to Personalize Learning

1. Overview (5-10)

2. Why use Blended Strategies (15 min) [use 2 minute blurb from Susan Patrick - see below]

3. Blended Strategies (10) for Engagement [see Andrew Miller blog below]

  1. Classroom Salon
  2. TED-Ed - Aaron Sams example

4. Q/A (5)


1. Here is Janine Campbell’s teaser video as part of the Kicking Up a Notch strand, “Remixing what Teaching Looks Like Through Blended Learning”

2. Article from Education Week on Florida Virtual -

3. Video from Edutopia - Susan Patrick talking about Online Learning

Download from iTunes U

This video is available as a free download from iTunes U.

4. A Teacher’s Perspective


Blended Learning: Strategies for Engagement

OCTOBER 12, 2012

Photo credit: 56155476@N08 via flickr

There are methods and models for implementing blended learning -- from the flipped classroom, to the flex model. All of them are on the continuum of just how much time is spent online and in the online classroom. Blended Learning can provide a unique way of not only engaging students in collaborative work and projects, but also personalizing and individualizing instruction for students.

However, there is still one piece that is missing from a great blended learning environment: engagement! As an experienced online teacher of both K-12 and higher education students, I am familiar with the challenges of engaging students in virtual work. Luckily, the blended learning model still demands some in-person, brick-and-mortar learning, so there is a unique opportunity to use this structure to engage students.

#1 Leverage Virtual Class Meetings with Collaborative Work

One of the most prominent features of blended learning is the virtual meeting or synchronous class meeting. Sometimes teachers spend the entire class meeting in a virtual meeting room lecturing and presenting content. The irony is that this meeting is often recorded, and available for students to watch later (so students can watch the meeting on their own time). Instead, use the time that you have with the entire class to problem solve together, collaborate on projects, and use virtual break-out rooms for guided practice. If you want students to be engaged in the class meetings, it must be meaningful. Collaborative work can be meaningful when students problem-solve together, plan, and apply their learning in new contexts.

#2 Create the Need to Know

The key here is an engaging model of learning. Teachers can use project learning to create authentic projects where students see the relevance and need to do the work -- whether that work is online in the physical classroom. The same is true for game-based learning. If students are engaged playing a serious game about viruses and bacteria, then teachers can use the game as a hook to learn content online or offline. Through metacognition, and the "need to know" activity, students "buy-in" to the learning -- no matter when and where that learning occurs.

#3 Reflect and Set Goals

Related to the comment on metacognition above, students need to be aware of what they are learning as well as their progress towards meeting standards. Teachers need to build in frequent moments, both as a class and individual, to reflect on the learning, and set S.M.A.R.T. goals. Through these measurable and student-centered goals, students can become agents of learning, rather than passive recipients. Use reflecting and goal-setting both online and offline to create personal connection to the learning and personalized goals.

#4 Differentiate Instruction Through Online Work

In a blended learning classroom, there is often online work that needs to occur. This might be a module on specific content, formative assessments, and the like. However, students may or may not need to do all the work that is in a specific module. In an effort to individualize instruction, use the online work to meet individual students needs. Whether an extension of learning, or work to clarify a misconception, the work that occurs online can be more valuable to students when it is targeted. Students are no longer engaged in uninteresting busy work, but focused, individualized learning.

#5 Use Tools for Mobile Learning

Edutopia recently published the guide, Mobile Devices for Learning. The guide provides a variety of apps and tips, proposing teachers use mobile learning as part of the learning environment. The great thing is that blended learning can partner well with many strategies and apps. If you use the flipped classroom model, for example, apps like the Khan Academy, BrainPop, and YouTube are incredibly useful. Leverage the flexibility of where students can learn, having them learn outside the four classroom walls. Use scavenger hunts, Twitter, and back-channel chats to engage students in a variety of mobile-learning activities to support your blended-learning model.

Successful blended learning educators and schools are focusing on engagement as they work towards student achievement. We have the unique opportunity to not replicate a system that has not served all students. Instead, we need to look at flexible time and place to innovate through blended learning.

This blog is part of a series sponsored by Herff Jones Nystrom.

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2. SchoolCIO article: The Perfect Blend

10 Drivers of Blended Learning

November 25, 2012 - by Tom Vander Ark

There are at least 10 reasons that make blended learning an unstoppable force.  

1.     Improved ability to personalize learning

2.     Potential for individual progress

3.     Improved student engagement and motivation

4.     Shift to online state tests starting in 2015

5.     Need to stretch resources

6.     Extend the reach of effective teachers

7.     Improved working conditions

8.     Decreased device costs

9.     Student and parent adoption of learning apps

10. Interest in narrowing the digital divide

Gilian Locke - high school senior at Kettle Morraine High School

Unlike most seniors in high school, I have the freedom to choose what I want to do when I wake up each morning.  I am not limited to an 8 hour bell schedule like my peers, nor does my learning stop when I drive off the high school parking lot at 2:30 pm. I don’t have to just do homework in the evenings, and don’t even have to go to classes during the day. Being a part of Kettle Moraine’s new charter school KM Global allows me to direct my learning on my own.

I have two classes in the traditional high school, physics and orchestra, because these were classes I wanted to take with traditional instruction. The rest of my classes are a mix of different formats-I’m getting my English credit this semester, for example, through project work. I’ve spent the entire semester studying in-depth about the topic of my choice. I work with my advisor to make sure I’m meeting the right standards and learning targets, but am free to take the direction of my project where I choose. Some classes, like my AP Comparative Politics and French classes, are what we call blended courses, because these classes combine traditional textbook work and note taking with online assignments, discussions over internet sites like Moodle, and independent research. And then there’s my Global Leadership course, which takes place through seminar work. Every Wednesday, you can find all of the what we call ‘Globalers’ in a little room at Kettle Moraine High School, discussing current events, creating resumes, listening to guest speakers, and participating in team building workshops. To say the least, KM Global is so much more than just an online school.

Because I have so many options, and different formats for learning, I have become a lot more in tune with how I learn best. For example, I’ve learned that I do best by having group discussions and writing things down, but this may not be the case for every other student. This is ok, because other students have different routes they can take, such as building projects, listening to lectures, doing independent research, reading information, watching information, etc. No Global student is limited to just one thing, and that’s what makes my education interesting. I am free to take it where I want it to go, and when I have control over what I’m doing every day, it makes my day so much more enjoyable. I’ve noticed too that when I’m enjoying my learning, I learn better. What I learn in a day is more etched into my mind than what it might’ve been had I been learning in a generic format in the traditional high school. It’s also easier to make personal connections to what you learn, when you’re the one in control of learning it, and we all know that personally connecting to what you’re learning cements it more in your mind, and gives you a better understanding of it.  I am more confident in my studies this year than I ever have been, and look forward to using the tricks and tools I’ve learned for myself next year when I go on to the college level.

For some students, the current system works really well. For others, small changes and creative ideas (whether in Charter schools or elsewhere) could be of great benefit. By no means is our traditional system a failure, or ‘wrong’-the fact of the matter is there is no right or wrong answer for all students. Every student is different, and each one needs different things. Every school in the US has the potential to deliver personalized learning to each of its students-it will just take some creativity, some time, and some dedicated students, administrators, and teachers. Charter schools like KM Global are an amazing and wonderful opportunity, but we can take what works in the charter schools and create new ideas that we can implement in traditional schools as well. I hope giving you an idea of what my experience has been like in the charter schools has given you some ideas of what we can do in every school, and for every student. I am optimistic about the future of education in the US. Together, we can create systems that allow each student to learn and grow in the best way possible.

Interactive Discussion on Personalised Learning - British Columbia, Canada

Department of Education (

Blended Learning is one form of personalized or competency based learning.

Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment and early college high schools, project-based and community-based learning, and credit recovery, among others. This type of learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant to each student and tailored to their unique needs. It also leads to better student outcomes because the pace of learning is customized to each student.

Blended Learning Programs to Watch

May 31, 2012


Judy Salpeter

In the three years since the U.S. Department of Education published a meta-analysis of research indicating that blended learning — which combines face- to-face with online education — was more effective than either approach on its own, a wide variety of organizations have launched blended learning initiatives. Most of the ground-breaking blended learning programs (also known as hybrid learning programs) that are making news these days are charter schools because of the flexibility such schools are given to experiment beyond the normal constraints of geography, time and class size.

Two philanthropic foundations have recently thrown their support to a wide range of blended/hybrid charter schools now in the planning or early implementation phase. In 2011, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation awarded five $200,000 one-year grants to hybrid charter schools aimed at creating case studies to explain each school's educational methods and results. Through its Next Generation Learning Challenges grants, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is also funding charters that promise to “combine the best aspects of brick and mortar and online learning and result in more personalized, mastery based learning” for students in grades 6-12; in February, 2012, the foundation awarded five $150,000 grants to secondary schools, with additional awards to be announced in May and September.

Following Their Progress

Although there is not yet extensive research coming from either of these organizations about the effectiveness of the approaches they are sponsoring, one of their goals is to create a growing body of evidence to shape future endeavors. In the meantime, all who are interested in blended learning would do well to keep an eye on the programs that are receiving support to see what can be learned from their successes and struggles.

The Dell Foundation has declined to provide much information about the programs it is funding until the case studies are complete but its web site does indicate five programs that have been awarded $200,000 grants to support the development of a “personalized learning model for the 2011-12 school year.” They are:

Rocketship Education

The Summit Institute

Alliance for College-Ready Schools

FirstLine Schools

Kipp LA Schools

The first round of Next Generation Wave III winners announced by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are as follows:

Alpha Public Schools, the first of a new network of charter schools, opening in August 2012 in East San Jose, CA.

KIPP Create College Prep Middle School in Chicago, which will join two other Chicago KIPP schools at the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

Leadership Public Schools which will be opening an “R&D campus” in Oakland, CA, in the fall of 2012.

Newark Prep Charter School in New Jersey, which will open in the fall of 2012.

USC Hybrid High School, operated by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and opening with its first class of 9th graders for the 2012-2013 school year.

Recommendations from Michael Horn

Michael Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns and a co-founder and executive director of the Innosight Institute, is another fan of blended learning, which he says allows schools to cut back on costs while encouraging a “student- centric model of learning where students can move at their own path and pace to boost student outcomes.”

Blended-learning school programs Horn holds up as examples include:

KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles, a high-performing, blended-learning school where primary grade students rotate between individualized online-learning, and small-group stations within each classroom.

Carpe Diem, a blended model, now expanding from Arizona to Indiana, serving middle and high school students who rotate from online learning for concept introduction and instruction to face-to-face for reinforcement and application.

• The Los Altos School District in California where a blended learning approach to middle-grade math is built around the Khan Academy’s online videos, supplemented by targeted intervention, flexible groupings, and student collaboration.

Quakertown Community School District (QCS) in Pennsylvania that has created a “self-blend” learning environment in which students, grades 6-12, have the option to take one or more online courses taught by district teachers

Alliance College-Ready BLAST School, whose video demonstrating an approach to blended learning Horn recommends.

Sources: Variety of Models Fuels Hybrid Charter Growth, by Ian Quillen, Education Week, and Bright Spots Shine in Blended, Online Learning by Michael Horn, EducationNext.


Relevant Research and Reports

The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning — Profiles of emerging models

Innosight Institute, May 2011

Describing online and blended learning as "classic disruptive innovation[s] with the potential not just to improve the current model of education delivery, but to transform it," this report defines and examines different models of blended learning and takes an in-depth look at numerous blended learning programs with information about their history, approach taken, costs and documented results.

Lessons Learned from Virtual Schools: Experiences and Recommendationsfrom the Field

iNACOL, November 2010

This book examines challenges, problems, solutions and "lessons learned" from several state virtual programs and other online learning pioneers.

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies

US. Department of Education, 2009

This report analyzed 46 scientifically-based studies of online learning, concluding that instruction conducted wholly online was more effective in improving student achievement than purely face-to-face instruction but that the most effective approaches involved blended instruction.


Mathematica Policy Research's project to track results at KIPP Foundation schools. Ongoing through 2014, this project will follow the progress of the KIPP schools, some of which are incorporating a blended learning model.