By SunGard K-12 Staff
Online learning has found a productive foothold in this nation’s K-12 classrooms. During Tuesday’s keynote address at eTech Ohio, Heather Clayton Staker—senior research fellow at the Innosight Institute—discussed the implications of online learning and offered her predictions for a future that blends traditional bricks-and-mortar education with this recent educational innovation.
During her address, Staker paralleled the ongoing evolution in education with similar paradigm shifts in industry, noting that disruptive innovations have historically had a hand in creating new markets and displacing earlier technologies.Online learning can be considered a disruptive innovation. Already, traditional higher education models are evolving because of its influence. Now, we are seeing a similar effect on this nation’s K-12 classrooms.
According to Staker, online learning offers the following benefits for education:
- Allows for Individualization. Online learning is inherently modular, which allows for customization. Student can create their own experience and learn at their own pace.
- Provides Access and Equity. Online learning can provide access to courses previously unavailable in districts and can extend the reach of great teachers.
- Increases Productivity. In a time that education spending is not growing, technology can be part of the solution in that it provides an affordable option.
Today, more and more schools are implementing a blended learning model—one which combines face-to-face classroom methods with online learning to form an integrated instructional approach. As this evolution of education has occurred in our classroom, Staker noted that four models of blended learning have materialized:
- Rotation Model. Students rotate between online learning and other stations on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion.
- Flex Model. Students rotate between online and face-to-face learning on a fluid schedule.
- Self-Blend Model. Students take an online course to supplement learning that they are doing in a brick-and-mortar setting.
- Enriched-Virtual Model. Full-time virtual schools with face-to-face scaffolding.
Looking into the near future, Staker predicts the continued rise of blended learning in K-12 districts. She believes we will see growth in the number of elementary schools employing the rotation model and the number of high schools using the self-blend model. At the district level, she expects to see more flex model prototypes and pilots. She also believes that more full-time virtual schools will integrate brick-and-mortar experiences.