Blog Post by Matt Samelson: A Toehold for Blended Learning
In order for blended learning models to truly get a toehold in the American public education system, they need to be implemented in existing district and charter schools. By no means is this a slight against new schools starting with blended learning as a core component of its structure. We need those too. But in order to accelerate the blended learning’s potential for individualized, differentiated teaching and student outcomes, more pilot classrooms and whole school programs are needed in existing classrooms.
That is why it was exciting to visit Aspire ERES Academy in Oakland, California last week. Chartered in 2009, ERES decided to pilot blended classrooms in five of its nine grades under the guidance of Liz Arney, Director of Innovative Learning for Aspire Public Schools, and Emily Murphy, principal of Aspire ERES.
Grafting blended learning into an existing school culture is hard, messy work. But all the teachers engaged in the program reported that the pilot had resulted in greater student achievement gains, made their jobs more sustainable, and that they would like to use blended learning in their classroom next year. That’s a positive start. Now we need more existing schools engaged in this work.
Organized by the Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust, the trip also included visits to Downtown College Prep in San Jose and KIPP Bridge in Oakland as well as meetings with education entrepreneurs Education Elements and Junyo. For a terrific overview of all the blended learning models we saw in the Bay Area, I recommend the analysis done by Terry Ryan of the Fordham Institute.