Picture this classroom: 16 tech-savvy students collaborate online using various teacher selected resources to complete group projects, 16 eager learners engage with the class’s teacher as she leads them in direct instruction, and another 16 pupils use adaptive digital content to self-pace themselves on the content they have yet to master. Adding up the numbers, you get a high school classroom with a whopping 48 students! Judy Burton, President and CEO Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, painted this picture for us this past week on an Education Week webinar on blended learning.
Blended learning takes a lot of forms – in general though, blended learning involves personalized learning through a tech-based medium. The challenge to blended learning is in the implementation. Burton opened Alliance College-Ready Public Schools as a charter in 2004 with Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School in the heart of Los Angeles. Populated by one of Los Angeles’s most underserved communities where 22% of students are ELL and 95% qualify for free/reduced lunch, Burton has made impressive gains; 95% of the students go on to college. It was not until 2010 though that Alliance launched the BLAST (Blended Learning for Alliance School Transformation) Project at two high schools, which has now expanded to seven of the schools system’s campus.