New Resource Drills Down on Blended Learning, ‘Personalized’ Ed. Practices

Managing Editor

Big, broad terms like “blended learning” and “personalized learning” permeate pretty much every corner of the K-12 landscape these days. A new online resource aims to make those often-abstract concepts a lot more concrete by showing district officials and other audiences what those strategies actually look like in practice.

The Learning Accelerator, a nonprofit headquartered in the Silicon Valley, created the “Blended and Personalized Learning Practices at Work” website as a collection of resources, including videos, audio recordings, and screencasts.

The organization says that in building the site, it examined the practices of 100 districts and schools, including charter schools, looking for what it regards as successful attempts to make blended and personalized learning a reality.

For novices, “blended learning” typically refers to teaching and learning practices that mix technology-based with non-tech-based teacher-to-student instruction, while “personalized learning” usually means efforts to customize lessons to student academic needs and interests, through technology, restructuring courses, and other means.

The site is organized to allow users to comb through six main categories of blended/personalized learning topics: in-person learning, technology, integration, real-time data, personalization, and mastery-based progression.

The goal of the site is to help K-12 officials who are intrigued by the ideas of blended and personalized learning but say, “I really need to see how this works on the ground level,” explained Beth Rabbitt, the CEO of the Learning Accelerator, in an interview.

Users can also go directly to videos and other resources focused on six K-12 schools or districts that Learning Accelerator officials say are taking noteworthy approaches to putting blended or personalized practices into place.

Those case studies focus on the CICS West Belden school, a K-8 charter school in Chicago; Lindsay High School, a traditional public 9-12 school in California; LPS Richmond, part of a network of charter schools in California; Pleasant View Public School, a traditional preK-5 public school in Providence, R.I.; Roots Elementary, a K-2 charter school in Denver; and ReNEW’s Dolores T. Aaron Academy, a preK-8 charter school in New Orleans.

Here’s a video clip from the Learning Accelerator site about the Pleasant View school’s efforts to nurture blended learning:

While the Learning Accelerator project initially highlights those six K-12 models, many more will be added to the site over time, Rabbitt said. Currently, a total of about 150 different blended and personalized learning strategies are included, with “several hundred” other resources, including written texts, and video and audio clips, she said.

The Learning Accelerator, which seeks to promote blended learning, has also been a supporter of “open” education resources—materials created on licenses that allow for their free re-use, alteration, and sharing.

The entire site and its resources were created using a Creative Commons license, Rabbitt said, so that they can be shared without restrictions. In some cases, she said, the site links to a resource or video produced by an outside organization, like a tech company, in which case those organizations may have their own rules on use.

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