This story on how blended learning can help schools reopen during the COVID pandemic, originally published on June 15, was eSN’s No. 9 most popular story of 2020. Check back each day for the next story in our countdown.
As educators start considering their options for the fall, the future is full of uncertainty. If schools remain closed, they’ll need to prepare for more remote learning. On the other hand, there’s a chance schools might be able to open back up, in which case they’ll likely need to have students come in shifts in order to maintain social distancing.
Fortunately, if bringing students to school part-time is an option, schools don’t have to invent new approaches from scratch. Two of the blended-learning models we’ve documented are well suited to these circumstances: the Enriched Virtual model and the Flipped Classroom model. There is a caveat: They all hinge on internet connectivity, a challenge that both public and private efforts are moving quickly to try to solve.
In an Enriched Virtual arrangement, students complete the majority of coursework online at home or outside of school, but attend school for required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher a few times a week. In Flipped Classroom setups, students learn at home via online coursework and video-recorded lectures, and teachers use class time for teacher-guided practice or projects.
Normally, the Flipped Classroom model is used by teachers whose students come to class every day, whereas the Enriched Virtual model is generally deployed to increase support for students in virtual schooling who normally wouldn’t attend a brick-and-mortar school at all. In COVID-19 circumstances requiring a reduction of the number of students in school buildings on any given day, however, the distinctions between these models become a bit blurry. Here are some examples of what these types of models look like.
Combining independent online learning with face-to-face instruction
Scott Nolt, a high school history teacher in North Carolina, has been using blended learning for years as a way to teach his students without daily direct instruction. At the school where he first developed his approach to blended learning, roughly half of his students met in class with him on any given day while the other half learned independently, often at home. At his current school, students were in class with him every day until COVID-19 closed their campus, but spent most of their time working independently on course activities while Nolt worked with small groups in a study-hall-type arrangement. This approach allowed him and his students to transition seamlessly to distance learning once schools closed.