In the summer of 2011 Envision Schools was involved in prototyping a blended learning approach to instructional design by using KhanAcamedy in summer school for students who needed to retake Algebra 1. The results, from a statistical perspective, showed a slight and yet not statistically significant difference in the post tests of students using Khan Academy when contrasted to the post test scores of students in a traditional classroom. The results, from a qualitative perspective were much more significant. Please read the feedback in its entirety at blendmylearning, as I will only highlight major findings here. As is true to any design process the students saw themselves as active participants and were reflective of not only their own learning but of the project as a whole. They found the strengths and weaknesses in this blended learning model for themselves as individual learners, thus reflecting on their learning styles; while also taking into account how this approach compared with other approaches and overall effectiveness. In summary, they felt more engaged, they felt a sense of accomplishment, they liked individualized structure, they felt challenged often, they struggled to learn solely from the video tutorials, they missed interacting with the teacher.
With a generous donation from google of over 100 Chromebooks we were able to continue our work with the incoming 9th grade class. The same teacher who had piloted the program in the summer agreed to continue the work, Khan Academy agreed to join the partnership officially and Envision Schools felt poised to truly impact the learning outcomes in math for this new group of students. To further support our endeavor the Gates Foundation has contributed financially and we now have the ability to achieve the following:
- Prototype an innovative blended learning approach using Khan Academy in math classes.
- Develop a model of blended learning that is integrated with Envision Schools project-based learning model.
- Work with teachers and students to build UpsideDownAcademy as a project repository.
- Expand the use of blended learning approaches to all 9th grade classes, (and in time to all grades)
In the Spring of 2012 we had the opportunity to apply for, and were awarded, further support from the Gates foundation. Our proposal outlined an ambitious scaling up and some innovative ways to provide differentiated programming across our network. We will be continuing to define what it meaning to provide blended learning in a project-based environment, and we will continue to share our finding through this blog and blendmylearning. Our goals for this year include:
- Expand blended learning approach in Algebra I, through the use of Khan Academy, to all 4 school sites.
- Provide each teacher with training and support in implementing and innovating.
- Prototype online elective program and learning lab at City Arts and Technology.
- Prototype working collaboratively with Learning Specialists to provide blended learning through assistive educational technology for specific students.
So stay tuned for updates about how things are progressing at each site and overall learnings. Have a wonderful school year and may we all be just a little smarter by this time next year.