This is a special blog posting by Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow, to share some selected , preliminary data findings from Speak Up 2014 (data collected from October 6 – November 24 from 1,769 school administrators/principals nationwide). The final data results will be published in a series of national reports in spring 2015.
One of the most interesting trends in digital learning today is the increasing number of learning experience models that are using online, virtual or blended approaches to instruction. Having recently attended the iNACOL symposium, I was intrigued by both the growing interest in different versions of online learning in practice, and some of the new questions being raised by school and district leaders about how to implement these models. The Speak Up data can inform those questions and add value to the nascent implementations.
Specific to blended learning, one-quarter of principals say that their schools have implemented some version of a blended learning model that has yielded positive results so far. We thought this was an interesting development. To learn more about principals’ motivations for supporting blended learning, we asked the administrators this year about the types of students who they think benefit the most from blended learning experiences. The principals’ identified students that had either a proven success record or external foundation factors to be successful with blended learning. For example, the principals felt that blended learning worked best with students who had a record of accomplishment and academic success (75 percent) or who had experience with independent learning (66 percent). A student’s personal motivation for blended learning was also a marker for success. Seven of ten principals felt that students who had expressed an interest in advanced coursework would be good candidates for blended learning. Same with students who had a strong family structure (59 percent) that could help the student navigate the differences associated with learning independently and through a blended model. In short, the principals recognized students for blended learning who were most likely to be successful in almost any kind of learning environment; they did not identify students with learning or family challenges. As blended learning implementations continue to evolve, it is going to be important for school administrators to explore further how to leverage blended learning for a wide variety of students and learning needs.
Want to learn more about the views of principals, teachers, parents and students about blended learning? Every school and district that participates in Speak Up and promotes the surveys to their parents, students and staff, receives a free report with both local and national data findings. Speak Up 2014 surveys are open for input until December 19. Local reports will be available February 5. Here is your link to the surveys: https://speakup.tomorrow.org2014/