Blended learning is transforming classrooms throughout the nation as students utilize many sources to progress through subject matter at their own pace, becoming more self reliant.
Nowhere is the drive to transform classrooms more apparent than the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Public Schools have set the ambitious goal of becoming the first “blended learning state” in the nation.
What is blended learning? It’s a model for education that combines online instruction with the traditional classroom teacher led experience. Students do not work from the same textbook. Instead, they engage with the classroom materials at their own pace. There are a variety of resources which encourage independent research, self discovery, and independent learning.These include textbooks, computer apps, and online materials.
The Rhode Island Department of Education’s transition from traditional brick-and-mortar learning to the blended method has involved a dramatic rollout of technology upgrades in the state’s nearly 300 public schools, paving the way for wireless accessibility in every classroom.
For its blended learning adventure, the state has partnered with The Learning Accelerator (TLA), a nonprofit that facilitates blended learning integration in school districts. The partnership comes with $100,000 and technical support from TLA, according to Education Week.
“Digital learning in all of its forms provides literally unlimited educational resources for every classroom, allows our schools to design flexible instruction schedules and enables students and teachers to work closely together at a pace that is right for each student,” Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, says in a news release.
The Hechinger Report recently spoke with Gist in August about the impact of the shift in the Ocean State’s education approach. Gist said the state chose to embark on the journey organically as a result of shared enthusiasm from its teachers.