New Future Ready Schools Guide to Blended Learning

Future Ready Schools®(FRS), a planning and resource hub for personalized, digital learning that helps district leaders effectively plan and implement research-based digital learning strategies, has recently released a new guide to understanding and implementing blended learning. Written by Kristen Loschert and Sara White Hall from the Alliance for Excellent Education, as well as Tom Murray from Future Ready Schools, and with input from The Clayton Christensen Institute, The Learning Accelerator, and Northeastern Regional Information Center, this piece is a comprehensive and well-crafted guide to truly transformational digital learning.

The guide is framed around the experience of Lindsay Unified School District, so each claim is put in the context of a real learning community’s experience. The guide is structured around the Future Ready Schools Seven Gears Framework. For each gear, the authors lay out opportunities for blended learning, barriers to implementation. and specific strategies.

We’ll leave it to you to explore the details of blended learning in the context of each gear. For now, we want to highlight some key takeaways of how this guide approaches and understands blended learning:

Start with a vision. Then determine how blended learning can get you there.

The authors make it clear that blended learning is not intended to function as an end goal. Instead, districts should be able to clearly articulate their vision for teaching and learning, as well as their strategic plan for making that vision a reality. They can then ideate how blended learning may serve as a vehicle or mechanism in their strategic plan to make that vision a reality.

For learning to be truly blended, content and instruction must shift to the control of the student.

The guide stresses the importance of student control over time, place, and pace of learning. Blended learning varies from technology-rich instruction in that it moves past the simple integration of technology and towards using technology to transform instruction and make learning more student-centered. According to the guide, “blended learning models intentionally integrate technology to boost learning and leverage talent.”

Blended learning should improve the quality of face-to-face instruction, not reduce it.

If blended learning isn’t just about introducing technology or integrating online work, but actually transforming instruction, then it follows that not all changes that accompany blended learning will be evident in only in the digital experience. When implemented well, blended learning will free up time for teachers to experiment with creative in-class activities that enable student collaboration and interaction.

Blended learning is not an instructional model — it’s a set of strategies and policies that empower teachers to personalize learning.

The authors go in-depth on how blended learning offers unique opportunities for personalized professional development. They preface this conversation by clarifying that Future Ready Schools doesn’t understand blended learning as a model at all, but as a “set of policies and strategies that empower teachers with knowledge and expertise to personalize learning for students in an accelerated fashion.” While the guide introduces many innovative ways to think about blended learning, we think that this one is perhaps the most powerful.

It wasn’t easy to narrow this list down to only four key takeaways from such an information-packed resource. We encourage you to check out the full guide and share it with your peers. To download the guide in its entirety from Future Ready Schools, visit:

For more on our partnership with Future Ready Schools, see:

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