After you’ve shopped for blended learning, chosen a provider, and evaluated the efficacy of your chosen education technology, it’s time to determine if your implementation is working for your school or district. While you were evaluating providers, you likely identified specific goals you hoped to achieve, but if that’s not the case, now is a good time to define your vision for your implementation so you can determine the success of your blended learning program. We propose these five questions to help you think about your implementation and evaluate its effectiveness. And remember, like so many things in the classroom, this is not a one-time process, but something that all educators working in the program should take part in annually to truly determine the success of your blended learning program.
1. Have you defined your goals?
When measuring anything, you need first to establish how to measure it. Just as most chefs use spoons, weights, and cups to measure ingredients, there isn’t one magical measuring tool for online or blended learning success. So whenever I talk to educators, I ask them how they know they’ve had a successful year or semester. For some, it’s mastery-based measures like graduation rates or number of credits attained; for others, it’s number of enrollments or number of students who have matriculated out of their program; and for others, it’s scores on end-of-course assessments, standardized tests, or even the ACT® and SAT®. In addition to these quantitative measures of success, most educators also add qualitative feedback from important stakeholders such as students, teachers, and parents.
2. Did you communicate your goals and the responsibilities of those involved?
Regardless of your goals or the goals of the major stakeholders involved in running your program, they need to be identified, communicated, and measured on some sort of regular cadence. Elizabeth Trach of Schoology suggests that educators be clear and concise in their goal statements, and “be sure to explain to instructors the reason behind the implementation to help them buy in to your vision.” And most importantly, Trach cautions against using lofty, broad language, and instead suggests focusing on the specifics of your goals, and how the products you have purchased fit into the plan.
Furthermore, identifying specific roles and responsibilities for your team members will empower those involved in the program to make decisions or identify who to turn to when issues arise. Offering ongoing professional development will ensure that educators have all of the tools they need to implement your plan and utilize technology in the way you envisioned.
3. How do you determine the success of your blended learning program?
One of the best parts of incorporating technology into the classroom is the plethora of data available to educators. Educators should run reports periodically (we suggest at least once a year) to truly understand the impact and success of the program. Reports within your education technology platform should show information like attendance, number of courses completed, and average grades, among other things. Information from testing providers like NWEA®, Renaissance®, and Scantron® may show students’ progression from the start of the term to the end, and data from standardized tests like your end-of-course assessments will be available from your state education department. Plus your school or district will have graduation rates, enrollment and drop-out rates, and promotion rates.
By comparing and compiling this data, you should get a good overview of how your implementation of blended or online learning is affecting your students. With this data, you can compare students within the same grade who used edtech against those who didn’t, see student growth over the year, and even compare year-over-year data to see student improvement over time.
Additionally, many schools and districts have developed surveys for their students and teachers. This helps to understand their struggles and preferences, and maybe even identify some suggestions for the next school term. Perhaps your students would like access to the computer lab after hours or to take additional courses online. It’s difficult for administrators to recognize these wishes without a defined approach for collecting (and acting on) input.
4. How can you expand or improve the impact of your blended learning program?
As you determine the success of your blended learning program, you may notice lower-than-expected results, or maybe your results were amazing in one area and you want to expand. But before revamping or expanding your program, there is a combination of factors to consider. Take time to reevaluate your goals, instructional methods, professional development, and maybe even your master schedule to understand how technology can increase student success.
It’s also important to work within your means. For example, improving or expanding a program that involves the use of a computer cart can be tricky, so an infrastructure or policy change may need to take place, like establishing a bring-your-own-device policy or allowing students to work from home. If accessibility is an issue for your school or district, consider partnering with local businesses to provide free Wi-Fi to students working from their establishments.
If you’re hoping to increase the success of your blended learning program, consider reaching out to your edtech provider for additional ways to incorporate technology into your classrooms. With additional training, suggestions from the experts, or maybe even working with a consultant, you can leverage existing investments to see student success.
5. Am I using technology as a means or an end?
Technology is a tool, and while it makes many things possible in the classroom, it is not the golden ticket to solving all of your challenges. Without an effective implementation and properly trained teachers, you may not see the results you were hoping for. To determine the success of your blended learning program, it is important to understand what it can and can’t do. Like any tool, the power of technology lies in the educator’s (and student’s) hands, and it’s your job to shape, evaluate, and redirect as needed.
Rivero, V. (2017, October 3). Trends: Implementing ed tech. Edtech Digest. Retrieved from https://edtechdigest.com/2017/10/03/trends-implementing-ed-tech/
Trach, E. (2017, October 2). 3 key steps for successful edtech implementation. Schoology Exchange. Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/blog/3-key-steps-successful-edtech-implementation