Technology holds great potential for rural schools, such as extending the reach of excellent teachers and expanding course offerings. But digital devices in a pre-digital school structure will not transform K-12. This paper, written for the Rural Opportunities Consortium of Idaho, offers policymakers and philanthropic leaders a set of recommendations to capitalize on the potential of technology to serve students: expand broadband access to schools lacking it, create an elite corps of proven teachers who would be made available to students across the state, and provide districts and schools with the flexibility to develop new models of staffing and technology and to achieve the most strategic combination of personnel, facilities, and technology.
Breakthroughs in Time, Talent, and Technology: Next Generation Learning Models in Public Charter Schools
Several new schools are breaking with tradition so that they can deliver a more personalized experience to students. But in order to do this, they need certain autonomies, especially with respect to the ways they can use time, talent, and technology. Since the public charter sector is uniquely positioned to provide many of these autonomies, it may offer a particularly welcoming space for these “next generation” learning models. This issue brief, written for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, explores the ways that next generation learning models use time, talent, and technology, the autonomies they require, and how the autonomies in the public charter movement can align with what next generation models need to be successful. It also includes brief case studies of four promising next generation models in public charter schools.
Opening Blended Learning Charter Schools: Indiana Schools Aim for Success Through Innovation
Case studies on two Indianapolis charter schools—Phalen Leadership Academy and Carpe Diem-Meridian—examine the schools’ approaches to blended learning in their first years. Commissioned by statewide charter authorizer the Indiana Charter School Board, the case studies provide lessons for potential school leaders considering similar schools.
All schools present significant challenges for states and other entities charged with holding them accountable for their effects on student learning outcomes. However, virtual schools—full-time schools that provide most, if not all, instruction online—raise unique challenges and opportunities for accountability. This report, written for the National Charter School Resource Center, presents five recommendations, with multiple means to implement each, for facing the challenges of adequately assessing virtual schools.
Blended learning that combines digital instruction with live, accountable teachers holds unique promise to improve student outcomes dramatically. This brief explains how schools can use blended learning to encourage improvements in digital instruction, transform teaching into a highly paid, opportunity-rich career that extends the reach of excellent teachers to all students and teaching peers, and improve student learning at large scale. We call this a “better blend”: combining high-quality digital learning and excellent teaching.
This white paper, written in collaboration with Getting Smart and Digital Learning Now!, is the seventh installment of the DLN Smart Series. The paper and accompanying infographic explain how blended learning can help create better teaching conditions and expanded career opportunities for teachers. By eliminating the traditional one-teacher-one-classroom model, blended learning environments allow for more teacher collaboration and more meaningful professional development. Enhanced student data systems improve efficiency, providing more time for personalized learning. Through the use of high-quality education technology, schools can extend the reach of excellent teachers to more students, while at the same time professionalizing the teaching career. The paper also addresses how to remove the policy barriers to blended-learning innovations, and notes that “Core to this is a belief that technology does not replace a teacher, but rather it empowers teachers and enhances their work.”
City-based funders focused on education are eager to invest in technology-based initiatives to address education’s most complex problems. However, many funders are struggling to figure out how to most effectively and expeditiously realize technology’s potential in schools. This white paper—published by the organization now known as Education Cities— identifies and catalogs the core components of education technology markets that city-based funders might support, and how they might support them. Interviews with funders and education technology experts yielded thoughtful observations about options for city-based funders in two categories: intervening directly in education technology markets to fund creators or users of cutting-edge technologies, and catalyzing activity or funding, to educate the field or create conditions favorable to the creators and users of education technology.
City-based organizations are playing pioneering roles in the development and implementation of blended learning initiatives. As more of these initiatives demonstrate early successes, their leaders and backers are turning their thoughts to replicating and scaling their efforts to improve student outcomes across their cities. This white paper—published by the organization now known as Education Cities—examines four approaches to scaling a successful blended learning initiative: expanding blended learning to additional schools and classrooms; developing systems and talent for scale; advocating for policies that support expansion of high-quality blended learning initiatives; and amplifying the voices of educators in efforts to influence policy and practice.
Quakertown Community School District: An Approach to Blended Learning That Focuses on District Leadership, Staffing, and Cost-Effectiveness (Part of All4Ed’s Digital Learning Series)
This case study from Public Impact and the Alliance for Excellent Education profiles Quakertown Community School District’s K-12 blended learning program. This interactive study, which includes video clips and a written profile, highlights the district leadership’s role in designing and implementing blended learning, and also details the district’s approach to staffing and budget to maximize the model’s impact. This case study is part of the Alliance for Excellent Education’s Digital Learning Series, which will continue to highlight innovations in digital learning across the nation. Read the press release to learn more.
This webinar, hosted by the National Charter School Resource Center, explores blended learning in charter schools, and explains how online and traditional teaching methods can be combined to improve student performance while making schools more efficient. Heather Staker of the Innosight Institute presents a variety of blended learning models, examining classrooms arrangements, schedules, student-teacher ratios, and the impact on school budgets. Lucy Steiner of Public Impact explains how blended learning, which is a key component of Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture initiative, can help excellent teachers reach more students, for more pay – within available budgets and without increasing class sizes.
Why does every child need consistent access to excellent teachers, and how can we, today, extend the reach of the excellent teachers our nation already has? Public Impact teamed up with designers at Column Five to develop this infographic with the answers. It illustrates four of the more than 20 “reach extension” models that use job redesign and technology to put excellent teachers in charge of every student’s learning. It also highlights the role of extending these teachers’ reach in building an “Opportunity Culture” in which excellent teachers, other educators, and students can excel. See the full infographic here.
In Fordham’s new book Education Reform for the Digital Era, Bryan C. Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel’s opening chapter proposes that “digital education needs excellent teachers and that a first-rate teaching profession needs digital education.” In the digital future, teacher effectiveness will matter even more than it does today. While the roles of teachers and other adults will change dramatically, what will increasingly differentiate outcomes for schools, states, and nations is how well responsible adults carry out the more complex instructional tasks. At the same time, technology has enormous transformative potential to extend the reach of excellent teachers to vastly more students, to help teaching attract and retain the best, and to boost the effectiveness of average teachers. To realize that promise, though, the nation needs new staffing models, significant policy changes, and a stronger dose of political will to change. Read the chapter here, and watch Bryan Hassel on a webcast of the release event here. The authors also penned a related commentary that appears here.
In this blog post for the Innosight Institute (now the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation), Bryan Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel argue that “schools – and nations – that excel in the digital age will be those that use digital tools both to make teaching more manageable for the average teacher, and to give massively more students access to excellent teachers.” While digital learning can help solid teachers become more effective, one of its greatest promises is to enable top teachers – those whose students already achieve well over a year’s worth of growth – to educate more students by freeing up their time, allowing them to teach students who are not physically present, and capturing their teaching prowess by recording videos or helping develop smart learning software.
In the schoolhouse, nothing matters more to students’ learning than their teachers. But only about one of every four U.S. classrooms has an “excellent teacher”—one who produces enough learning progress to close achievement gaps quickly and help all students leap ahead to higher-order learning. What can schools do, now, to reach many more students with excellent teachers year after year and help all teachers improve and contribute to excellence? Schools can “extend the reach” of the top 25 percent of U.S. teachers to more students. This report, based on the information that appears here on the OpportunityCulture.org website, provides brief descriptions of more than 20 school models that extend excellent teachers’ reach by using job redesign, technology, or both. By making the right changes, schools can provide all teachers with career advancement opportunities, and promote collaboration, development, and excellence for every professional. Ten detailed models further explain how changes in teaching roles, time use, and technology can allow teachers who achieve the best student outcomes to reach more students and help peer teachers produce excellent results, too.
Public Impact has posted brief descriptions of more than 20 school models that put excellent teachers in charge of more children’s learning. The models describe how schools can adjust teaching roles and use technology to reach every child with excellent teachers—the 20 to 25 percent who make well over a year of progress each year on average with their students. Public Impact will add examples and detail, including job descriptions, evaluation rubrics and financial considerations. All will be available for free on OpportunityCulture.org. Models were made possible by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, and the Colorado Legacy Foundation.
This report, co-authored by Bryan Hassel for Bellwether Education Partners, examines how technology can optimize the flow of investment capital to drive innovation in public education. As described by Bellwether: “Through an in-depth examination of investing and giving tools and platforms, and interviews with more than two dozen stakeholders, we discovered that there are indeed ways we can better leverage technology to increase and align funding for education innovations. By strengthening content, connecting technology efforts with existing face-to-face networks, and streamlining transactions, we can help create a more rational, evidence-based culture in public education that can effectively attract capital, steer it toward the best ideas and approaches, and ultimately improve student achievement and school productivity.” This is the final paper in the Bellwether Education Partners’ series Innovation for the Public Good: A Case Study of US Education, produced with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
Blended learning is poised to transform American education by personalizing student learning – uniting the highest-quality online content with highly-effective educators in “live” instruction and supervisory roles. This white paper from Innosight Institute (now the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation), the Charter School Growth Fund, and Public Impact defines six models of blended learning, provides vivid examples of blended learning in action, and discusses both the technology and policies needed to realize the promise of blended learning. The white paper highlights the importance of creating policy environments that grant innovative educators autonomy, enabling them to design and implement models based on affordable quality and personalization. In these policy environments, the focus of regulation must not be on input-focused rules, but on accountability for outcomes.
This report, by Lauren Morando Rhim and Julie Kowal, describes how educating students with disabilities in virtual charter schools entails not only molding state charter school laws to fit a specialized type of charter school, but also adapting federal and state special education guidelines aimed at providing special education in traditional brick and mortar settings. This special report, funded by the USDOE National Initiatives Grant of the Charter Schools Program and administered by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, is a supplement to a series of special education primers, Primers on Special Education in Charter Schools, created to inform state officials, authorizers and charter school operators about special education in the charter sector.
How Can Virtual Schools Be a Vibrant Part of Meeting the Choice Provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act?
This paper by Bryan C. Hassel and Michelle Godard Terrell was prepared for the No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit—Increasing Options Through e-Learning in July 2004. It outlines different models for how districts and states could use virtual schools to meet the choice provisions of NCLB. The paper explores a range of challenges districts and states face in using virtual schools for this purpose and proposes solutions.
This paper, published by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, explores how some schools and teachers are using the Internet in exemplary ways to teach reading and writing across the curriculum.