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Michael Horn Offers Four Bright Spots in Online Blended Learning

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March 02, 2012 03:55 pm

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michael horn

In his weekly blog for Forbes, Michael Horn, the co-founder and executive director of the education practice of the Innosight Institute, offers four examples of online blended learning on the one-month anniversary of Digital Learning Day.

Horn writes that the examples “remind us that what is so exciting about technology is the power that it holds to move our education system toward a student-centric model of learning where students can move at their own path and pace to boost student outcomes.”

Excerpts from the four examples Horn offers in his blog appear below:

KIPP Empower Academy: A Los Angeles-based elementary school that serves kindergarteners and 1st graders and plans to grow by one grade each year up to 4th grade. Horn describes the KIPP Empower Academy, which opened in 2010, as a “blended-learning school,” where students rotate between individualized online-learning, and small-group stations within each classroom. He says the school’s now first-grade students experienced some notable results as reported by the school’s website, which notes, “Though many students at KIPP Empower Academy entered kindergarten without basic letter and number recognition skills, by the end of the year, 98 percent were reading and performing math at or above the national average.”

Carpe Diem: A blended school based in Yuma, Arizona that serves grades 6 through 12. The school uses an “individual-rotation” model in which students students rotate from online learning for concept introduction and instruction to face-to-face for reinforcement and application in 35-minute increments. Horn notes that Carpe Diem ranked first in its county in 2010 in student performance in math and reading and ranked among the top 10 percent of Arizona charter schools.

Los Altos School District: Horn writes that this California school district, which serves 4,300 students, began using the Khan Academy last year in a handful of fifth-grade and two seventh-grade classrooms to blend its math learning. This year, Horn notes, the district has incorporated Khan Academy into its math curriculum for all fifth- through eighth-grade students, which totals about 1,000 students. He writes that the Khan Academy allows teachers to “individualize learning for each child based on real-time data.” He adds that the blended-learning environment in Los Altos schools “allows for seamless targeted intervention and flexible groupings, as well as real collaboration among students-all of which allows them to exercise their own student voice and choice.”

Quakertown Community School District (QCS): Horn writes that QCS is a traditional school district in Pennsylvania that has “embraced the power of online learning to create a ‘self-blend’ learning environment for students.” In this environment, all students in grades six through twelve have the option to take one or more online courses, which are taught by district teachers teach with the exception of those, like Mandarin, where there is no certified teacher available within the district. Because courses are asynchronous, students can work on their assignments at any time during the day. Horn writes that many students take advantage of this option in order to work around vocational programs, work schedules, and extracurricular interests.

A more complete description of each school, as well as video of the schools’ in action, is available in Horn’s complete blog post at http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhorn/2012/02/29/bright-spots-shine-in-online-blended-learning/.

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