FAQ #1 – What do you mean by a hybrid school?

A hybrid school is an institution that offers traditional, on-campus classes as well as online classes for students to select from as part of their studies. For example, students may take an English Language Arts class with an on-campus teacher in the morning and then have a biology class online in the afternoon.

Hybrid schools can vary in the amount of “face-to-face” and online instruction that it offers. The plan for the new Monroe Christian High School is developed on the assumption that approximately 50% of the day will include instruction in the classroom. Students will enroll in online classes for the rest of the day.

Students need S-P-A-C-E to learn

I was recently introduced to Challenge Success, which is an organization that works with schools to help create balance and academic fulfillment for students. One of their cornerstones is based on the notion that students need SPACE to learn. SPACE is an acronym for five practices that can help change a student’s experience of school:

S – Students’ use of time

P – Project-based learning

A – Alternative and authentic assessments

C – Climate of care

E – Educate parents, students and faculty

It is worth viewing the recommended SPACE policies and ideas that can positively influence a student’s experience of high school.

Interestingly, we have been advocating for these same principles (minus the fancy acronym!) and planning for many of the recommendations for our new high school. It is rewarding to see how our efforts are aligning with recommendations from the research base for school success.

Of particular interest is focus “C” on developing a caring community for students in which they feel safe and appropriately challenged to learn. This is so central to our plans for Monroe Christian High School, as it is in a Christian community-based learning environment that discipleship and student development can occur. Our high school students need community and a caring advising system in which teachers will get to know their students in order to help them succeed academically  We don’t believe that a fully online, virtual high school will lead to the type of academic and personal growth that we desire for our high school graduates. We remain committed to the deliberate blending of on-campus learning experiences and positive relationships with the best that online learning options may offer for high school studies.

Resource:

Barseghian, T. – Why kids need schools to change

The “flipped” classroom

The notion of a “flipped” classroom has been gaining a lot of attention in the past year or so.

First of all, what is a “flipped” classroom? By most accounts, a flipped classroom is one where the instruction takes place online outside of class hours, thereby freeing classtime for discussion, application and/or homework on the online lesson’s ideas and topics that students have previously viewed.

I have been following the development and interest that it is gaining and wanted to collect a number of links to some valuable resources on the flipped model:

This infographic provides a nice overview of the flipped model.

A collection of 10 reasons to consider flipping a classroom countered with 5 reasons not to flip a classroom.

A balanced commentary on the flipped classroom model for learning.

The flipped class manifest outlines the core tenets of a flipped classroom.

A discussion on how the flipped classroom is radically transforming learning.

The Flipped Class Network is a professional learning community to support teachers as they consider flipping a lesson or even their entire class.

The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education

With much anticipation, I received notice today of my acceptance as a full participant to The Vancouver Symposium on Christian Education for the 21st Century! I have been quite excited about this conference, as I see it as a valuable opportunity for networking, resource gathering and sharing our vision for Monroe Christian School.

From their website: “This symposium will be the second of three annual events that will bring together innovative Christian Leaders for the purpose of dialogue and leadership for the K-12 Christian school movement. The three year goal of these meetings will be to give vision and direction to the global Christian School movement. This will culminate in a pedagogical manifesto for Christian Education in the 21st Century to be completed in the summer of 2013.”

I find that the manifesto drafting process will add a significant focus and value to our time together, as we deliberately attempt to influence education for this century.

Looking forward to Vancouver!

A reminder for an e-school day

A winter storm arrived last weekend, and it promises to keep schools closed for the better part of this week. I was reminded of my post last April on how a hybrid approach to teaching in the classroom could keep the students learning, even during the days that schools “have” to be closed. Offering an opportunity for a synchronous discussion on a topic, or even a video chat, and then following through on some collaborative work online could keep students engaged, even after they have played in the snow.

Mandates for online learning continue

As a follow-up to my post last summer, I came across this article on mandated online learning requirements. As online learning becomes more prevalent, a number of states and school districts are taking initiatives to require online learning experiences for their K-12 students:

  • Michigan was the first state to require students to complete at least 20 hours of online learning between grades 6 and 12 (2002).
  • Idaho recently passed a requirement for all high school students to complete two credits of online learning for graduation (Sept. 2011).
  • Florida now requires online learning credits as part of their revised graduation requirements (2011).
  • Alabama and New Mexico require an online “experience” as part of graduation.

Students are encouraged to complete the requirement on their own time (in the evenings or during summer) or as part of their high school schedule. To ensure equity of access for all students, schools are making their computer labs available during lunch or after-class hours or instituting a laptop check-out program (similar to a library book) so that all students have access to the technology.

As I suggested back in July, it is evident that “more kids will learn in cyberia” and that, once again, we are proceeding down the right path as we consider online learning for a Christian high school environment. This serves as a reminder, too, that we will need to address equity and access issues as part of our plan.

Reference:

Davis, M. R. (2011, Oct. 19) States, districts move to require virtual classesEducation Week: Digital Directions. Accessed Oct. 20, 2011 through Education Week.

Questions to ask when choosing a K-12 learning platform

The Getting Smart blog that I follow released a list of 10 essential questions to consider when choosing the right platform for teaching in either an online or blended format. These are important questions to remember. The point that struck out for me was consideration #6, namely that “kids see their computers as places where the park and store their data. But they drive around on their Smartphones and tablets all day.” From this perspective, mobile access should an important consideration to remember.

The blog referenced A Guide to K-12 Open Source Learning Management Systems options from THE Journal. This guide provides a nice review of options behind Moodle, Sakai, Canvas,  ATutor, OLAT, and Google CloudCourse as open access options for schools, an important consideration for a smaller Christian high school on a limited budget.

Online learning is one step closer to being mandated

The New York Post reported today that the New York Board of Regents has approved a revision to instructional regulations regarding seat-time for high school credit. They eased the face-to-face time requirements for classroom attendance for course credit. As a result, New York schools are now encouraged to offer more online courses as well as blended learning opportunities in its schools. I find this announcement particularly interesting as online and blended learning is now being officially encouraged, if not almost mandated, at the state level. Clearly, “more kids will learn in cyberia” and it suggests, once again,  that we are proceeding down the right path as we consider online learning for a Christian high school environment.

Reference:

Campanile, C. (2011, Jul. 14). More kids will learn in cyberia. Accessed July 14 through New York Post (online edition)

Why do we need a snow-day…

…when we can have an e-school day?

The Nurturing Faith blog  that I follow asked this simple question a few days ago. I hadn’t thought of this situation in all my reading on the transition to blended learning approaches in the classroom. Indeed, would we rather have kids make up for snow days at the end of the school year, or simply meet virtually when the weather doesn’t allow us to meet in person? It would seem appropriate for teachers to prepare for snow days by having online options planned and “ready to go.” Part of this would include preparing students on what to expect and how to proceed for these days.

What is Blended Learning?

What exactly does Blended Learning mean?

The Innosight Institute suggests that “Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace” (p. 3).

Blended learning is also commonly referred to as hybrid learning.

Six models of blended learning approaches seem to be prevalent in K-12 education:

1 – Face-to-Face Driver. In this model, teachers deliver most instruction in a live classroom. They use online activities to supplement or reteach classroom learning as necessary. This often takes place at the back of the classroom or in a computer lab.

2 – Rotation. This model features students rotating between face-to-face class sessions and individual, self-paced online learning within the same subject area. The classroom teacher usually oversees the online work. A fixed schedule usually outlines when students are receiving class instruction and when they are working individually, whether at school or remotely.

3 – Flex. The flex model is based on curriculum that has been developed and provided online. It features an on-site teacher who provides instruction as needed in individual tutoring and small group sessions.

4 – Online Lab. This model is takes place in a school’s computer lab where students follow entire courses online. The courses part of the school’s general curriculum, yet are provided by online teachers and content-area specialists. The school provides a computer lab and necessary supervision. Paraprofessionals offer the necessary supervision and provide limited, if any, content expertise. Students in this model usually take other traditional courses and follow a typical school schedule.

5 – Self-Blend. In this model, students take online courses à la carte to supplement their school’s curriculum. This is different from the online lab model in that the learning is always remote, rather than being organized by the school. This model is currently the most common version of blended learning in schools.

6 – Online Driver. The online driver model expects students to take most of their courses online and independently. Other on-site requirements, such as extracurricular activities, may be required as part of the overall school experience.

Which model would seem to be most appropriate forms of instruction and learning as we plan for a new Christian high school?

My initial thoughts are that the flex, online lab and self-blend models would serve our students well.

The initial school population will be limited, as will the number of certified teachers. As a result, this limitation will impact overall course offerings. Nevertheless, in order to provide a wide choice of course electives and supplement those subject areas where instruction may be more difficult to offer, these models can provide some viable alternatives.

The flex model will allow our teachers to take advantage of standards-based curriculum that has been developed and tested in an online format, and then supplement the instruction as needed in individual tutoring and small group sessions. This could work nicely for a subject-area specialist who can work with students in multiple grade levels. For example, the time-table would be organized such that all students take “science” at the same time, but have their learning differentiated according to either grade level or subject level. The students would then progress individually based on their ability and interest. The science teacher would provide instructional assistance as necessary. In this format, the science teacher could be working with freshman and sophomore science students at the same time, and even work with one student taking a course in a specialized science, too.

The Online Lab model might be appropriate for those general courses that are needed for graduation, but cannot be offered in a small school setting, such as, for example, a class in world history or western civilization literature. When these classes are offered in the regular timetable, lab supervision would be provided by a paraprofessional, thus allowing the faculty to focus on their other classes, or even use the time for collaborative planning.

The Self-Blend model allows the school to offer a wide selection of electives that would otherwise never be offered. Students could choose from online options such as AP Environmental Science, music appreciation, macroeconomics, etc. The choice may only be limited by the electives through a course provider.

Reference:

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2011). The rise of K-12 blended learning. Innosight Institute.