When parents find out that their child’s school is implementing a blended learning program, it can leave them feeling like their world is being turned upside down—especially when one of the most common models for blended learning is literally called the “flipped classroom.” But it is possible to transition to a blended learning model without turning a community of parents into an angry, pitchfork-wielding mob, and it all starts with how your school or district presents their case for switching to blended learning.
In this second installation of our three-part series about getting on board with the blended learning model, we’ll examine some of the most common misconceptions that parents have about blended learning and how your school or district can allay those fears and build trust.
Implementing blended learning means that my child’s teachers will be replaced by computers.
First and foremost, parents must understand that their child’s teachers are not being replaced by computers. This really is one of the biggest concerns that parents have about blended and online learning, so it’s crucial that you provide parents with a clear definition of blended learning, especially in terms of what it will mean for their child. Show parents that blended learning is meant to enhance the teacher-student relationship, not eliminate it.
School administrators are making a hasty decision that hasn’t been thought through and won’t work.
When informing parents about your school or district’s intention to move to a blended learning model, be sure that you include details about how you plan to do it. Outline each of the steps you plan to take as well as the goals you hope to accomplish at each milestone. Be sure to explain how each of those steps will help you reach those objectives. Having a plan is not only key to a successful blended learning implementation; it’s also a crucial factor in building parents’ trust and confidence in your school or district’s decision.
My child’s school doesn’t care how parents feel about moving to a blended learning model.
Don’t leave parents out in the cold. Keep them in the loop and get them involved. Give parents plenty of opportunities to openly communicate with the decision makers in your school or district. This can be as simple as providing contact information to someone who can address their concerns. It’s also a good idea to host an open question and answer session. Some parents will feel better just having someone to listen to their concerns. Remember that this is a golden opportunity to address some of those fears and turn parents from skeptics into supporters.
Blended learning won’t benefit my child or their learning experience in any positive way.
Part of what has pushed blended learning into the limelight as an instructional model is the wealth of benefits it can offer to both students and teachers. By the Clayton Christensen Institute’s definition, blended learning provides students with some degree of control over their learning experience. This compels students to take ownership for their own education to some degree, which helps to prepare them for college and career life. It also teaches them to self-advocate and even makes it easier for them to ask for help since online learning provides students with formats for getting assistance that don’t involve raising a hand in a classroom full of peers. Additionally, because a blended learning environment requires the use of online tools, students gain crucial digital literacy skills that they will need in the future. Parents want what’s best for their children, so make sure that when you announce the switch to blended learning you also highlight all of the ways it will benefit students.
Blended learning will diminish the quality of instruction my child receives from teachers.
You should clearly communicate to parents that blended learning empowers teachers. Most online programs significantly reduce the amount of time and effort teachers have to spend on simply grading papers, allowing them to focus their efforts instead on the data that those numbers represent. This means that when a student is struggling, teachers can identify problem areas and intervene sooner. Teachers also gain more time to work with students one-on-one and provide personalized instruction. One of the best things you can do to get parents on board with your new blended learning model is to show them how it transforms the student-teacher relationship—taking their child from being just another face in the class, to someone with a unique set of needs and aspirations.