Blended Learning and Turnaround

As variety and quality has increased in the blended online learning space, I have become more and more interested in the prospect of thinking about “hybrid” school models as support for rural turnaround efforts. For a quick primer on these blended models, check out the Innosight Institute’s recent study; models like Carpe Diem and Rocketship Education combine “brick and mortar” school environments with online tools to create highly personalized learning environments for students. Children interact with peers and teachers – it’s not just a kid with headphones in front of a computer – and the online tools provide a huge degree of flexibility and individualization vis-a-vis content.

In any event, as I talk to leaders and policy makers who work in rural environments, it is clear that many of the human-capital-intensive turnaround solutions are going to be daunting in disconnected rural areas. Think about how hard it is to get a good AP chemistry teacher in a big city, now imagine how difficult that would be 200 miles from the nearest major airport.

I’m not suggesting that blended models are a rural turnaround panacea, but I’d love to hear from readers on this. Has anyone deployed a blended model in a rural turnaround context? If so, what were the challenges involved, and how is it going?

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