Across the country, unprecedented number of schools and school districts are using technology in new ways, to support teachers and accelerate student learning. Blended learning programs combine the use of adaptive and personalized computer-based instruction with traditional teaching through individualized or small-group instruction.
The emerging evidence about these programs is very encouraging, as academic research and case studies of specific schools show that students benefit when blended learning is used effectively.
For school leaders and school district officials, the decision to introduce blended learning programs into a school requires investment and commitment. Fortunately, there are many resources that can help guide the education community through these decisions.
Measuring the impacts of these programs on student learning is essential on many fronts – including helping to ensure the sustainability of progress amid the myriad of competing priorities every school leader inevitably faces, and also ensuring that the supports being offered students are ones best suited for their educational needs.
A timely new white paper comes from the Learning Accelerator, a national non-profit that describes itself as “the catalyst to transform American K-12 education through blended learning on a national scale,” and TLA’s measurement guru Saro Mohammed.
The report, titled “District Guide to Blended Learning Measurement,” is aimed to help school leaders plan for how to design and measure new programs:
Many educators feel ill-equipped to consume, much less conduct, research. By extension, they may feel that all measurement activities are best left to others - even though educators crave the meaningful data and insights that would enable them to make the best instructional decisions for their students. The good news is that measurement need not be intimidating, expensive, or complicated for it to be useful.
Learning Accelerator guide offers five steps for planning how to use measurement in a new blended learning program.
The first step is to understand research and evaluation – the paper includes a handy reference table of similarities and differences.
The next step is to consider when to use measurement, and in what order – what are the differences between outputs, outcomes, and impact?
A third question that school leaders must ask is what to measure—including considering what the goals are of a specific practice and program and whether they are achieved.
A fourth step is to decide whom to measure, and how best to compare results.
The last step discussed in the paper is to consider how to measure, including planning assessments or evaluations to ensure reliability and validity, so that school leaders can have confidence that the measurements are effective and trustworthy.
To be sure, planning for how to design and measure the effectiveness of a blended learning program is just one important step that the education community must take to implement effective blended learning models. But it is a necessary ingredient in designing an effective educational program for a school.
For more information, read the Learning Accelerator’s new white paper here.