Blended learning changes the way teachers spend their time, how much they know about each of their students' progress, and when they know it. Ideally, the new model allows teachers to spend less time on mundane tasks like lesson planning and correcting daily assignments, freeing up more time to work with small groups of students who need special help and instigate collaborative projects that encourage critical thinking skills. With appropriate tracking software, teachers can see the mastery level of every student, every day.
"You don't get kids who are bored, and kids who are woefully behind, and will continue to have a gap in learning," Patrick said. "You can catch kids up, and keep them on their learning edge."
Teachers may be responsible for a much larger swath of content, because some students are well below grade level and some are well above, Horn said. The online piece of the blended learning model exposes that, and let teachers design ways to address learning gaps through peer tutoring and small-group instruction.
"The computer does the 'know' and 'do' part," Horn said. "The teacher can focus on understanding, analyzing and applying. It puts the deeper learning into the teacher's bailiwick. We weren't able to get there in the past because teachers were stuck in the 'know' and 'do' part."
To capture the benefits of blended learning, careful professional development for teachers will be needed, and those teachers will need accurate reporting tools, said a report by K12 Inc., a technology-based education company that provides online curricula.
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