Some books that give an overview of how technology is changing education:
Disrupting Class (2008). Written by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn, this seminal book describes the directions and theories behind current education innovation efforts. Disrupting Class focuses on transformational uses of technology and applies the theory of disruptive innovation to K–12 education, examining how change is likely to occur even in this innovation-resistant sector.
Education Reform for the Digital Era (2012). Published by the Fordham Institute, this collection of five papers outlines policy issues that reformers must address for digital learning to flourish: the role of the teacher in digital instruction, consistency of quality, the true costs of digital learning, school finance, and governance. The authors conclude that a complete reshaping of the education-reform agenda is needed for digital learning to fulfill its promise. This collection addresses tricky issues including school reimbursement and varied student pace.
Getting Smart: How Digital Learning Is Changing the World (2011). Written by Tom Vander Ark, this book traces educational innovation in the United States and abroad. The author details efforts to blend online and onsite learning, highlighting schools and programs that offer personalized digital learning. He identifies four distinctive features:
- Customized learning: students learn at the right level, pace and mode.
- Competency-based learning: students progress as they demonstrate mastery.
- Productive staffing: teachers work together for student success.
Expanded opportunity: more access to teachers, content, and courses.
The Rise of K–12 Blended Learning (2011). Produced by the Innosight Institute, and a follow-up to Disrupting Class, this report begins to delineate various categories of blended learning. It also defines how blended learning is different from full-time online learning, and from schools that merely offer a technology-rich learning environment. This report remains useful for its school profiles, explanations of results and advantages, and discussions of the sector’s potential.
Classifying K–12 Blended Learning (2012). A sequel to “The Rise of K–12 Blended Learning,” this report further defines blended learning and clarifies questions from the previous report. The authors move away from the tight parameters that they’d previously used to define blended learning, not wanting to restrict experimentation in the field.
Blended Learning in Practice: Case Studies from Five Leading Schools (2012). The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation commissioned case studies of five different blended-learning schools in order to build a stronger body of research about the practices and results in this field. These look in depth at the operations, instructional model, and finances (down to per-pupil budgets) of several schools profiled here—KIPP Empower Academy in Los Angeles, Summit Public Schools, Alliance College-ready Public Schools, and Rocketship Education—as well as FirstLine Schools in New Orleans, not in this guidebook.
Ten Elements of High-Quality Digital Learning (2010). Led by former Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise, Digital Learning Now was one of the first organizations to promote online learning. This paper outlines the elements necessary for sound digital-learning policy. DLN promotes legislation that adheres to those principles, and grades states based on how their policies stack up.
“The Online Learning Imperative: A Solution to Three Looming Crises in Education” (2010). This article by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise outlines why our education system is in need of big changes. “The current process and infrastructure for educating students in this country cannot sustain itself any longer,” notes Wise, who outlines three major reasons why innovative digital learning is needed:
- Demand for high-skill employees is outstripping our current educational system capacity to produce job-ready graduates.
- Local, state, and federal education funding is not keeping up with spending, which requires finding economies in education spending.
- There is a serious shortage of high-quality teachers.
3X for All: Extending the Reach of Education’s Best (2009). Written by Public Impact, this report examines how technology can expand the reach of the best teachers. The paper is part of a broader project, called Opportunity Culture, which highlights redesigned teacher roles.
iNACOL, the International Association of K–12 Online Learning, produces several useful reports annually, like this one: Fast Facts About Online Learning, an update on basic facts associated with online learning.
Keeping Pace with K–12 Online Learning. Published by Evergreen Education Group, this reviews state policies, enrollment data, and trends.
Profiles in Emerging Models (2011). This paper from the Innosight Institute delineates over 40 schools that are using blended learning in some way, ordering the organizations according to geographic location and method of delivering content. It also surveys technology providers and notes a need for policies that will force vendors to compete based on student performance rather than price.
“Moving from Inputs to Outputs to Outcomes” (2011). This Innosight Institute essay draws attention to the need for policies that center on what students actually achieve. It evaluates whether existing policies are aiding or delaying the development of digital learning. Old criteria like seat-time requirements and teacher certification are criticized as inferior to outcome measures such as content mastery and individual student growth.
“The Fall of the Wall: Capital Flows to Education Innovation” (2012). This 91-page slideshow from GSV Advisors outlines current private investment in education, finding a notable uptick in the past three years, which it credits to improving technology and the ability to reach parents and students directly instead of selling solely through school districts. It argues that there is no lack of capital available for worthy projects, but that unfriendly school-district policies, odd buying cycles, and a disconnection of end-users from purchasing decisions are slowing progress.
“American Revolution 2.0: How Education Innovation is Going to Revitalize America and Transform the U.S. Economy.” A broader critique of the problems and opportunities in American public education, with a particular eye to ways that technology can yield opportunities. Also created by GSV Advisors.
“The Ed-Tech Market Map.” Created by Anthony Kim and Michael Horn courtesy of funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and released at The Philanthropy Roundtable’s 2011 meeting in San Francisco, this is a survey of the landscape of technology providers active in creating school curricula. This is a starting point when discussing existing digital educational content, and how donors should work with private firms. The map reveals which subject areas are over-saturated with providers, and identifies areas ripe for private or philanthropic investment. One primary lesson: it is less educational content than teacher development and productivity tools that are in short supply today.
BlendedLearningNow.com is an aggregator of the leading blogs, news, research, case studies, and videos. It also provides a useful digital toolkit about starting online learning programs. Geared towards educators, philanthropists, civic leaders, and education reformers.
“Investing in Education Innovation” (2012). Written by Alex Hernandez of the Charter School Growth Fund, this article outlines basic concepts for investing in new methods of schooling. Breaks down investments targeted at seed-incubation, launch, and expansion, and describes which funders are currently active at each level.
“Our School System Wants to do Blended Learning. Now What?” (2012). Also written by Alex Hernandez, this article warns how difficult it is for established school districts to innovate, and offers a few suggestions for those willing to try: keep innovation teams small and separate from the rest of the organization, start with a strong though not necessarily perfect idea, and create a short cycle between testing, learning, and repeating.
EdSurge is one of today’s best curators of information on education technology. Its weekly email highlights the latest ed-tech tools, practices, events, and trends. They focus more on technology and people than on issues pertaining to reform.
GSV Edu Newsletter is a daily email from GSV Advisors. It lists important news stories on education technology and the education reform movement. Since GSV is a merchant banker for education companies, much of the coverage relates to the growth, financing, and acquisition of education companies.
Blendmylearning.com is a blog written by classroom teachers, school leaders, and funders to test theories about blended learning and record what works. Contributors include charter schools like Achievement First and E. L. Haynes, as well as funders like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Silicon Schools Fund.
Plugged In is a daily digital-learning news digest about what’s happening within schools and states, published by iNACOL. Presents headlines and short descriptions of each story from around the country. Compared to the GSV Edu email, this focuses more on policy, thought leadership, on-the-ground school issues, and politics. It also features a “best of the blogs” roundup.
Maximize Potential, a blog kept by Scott Benson of the Gates Foundation provides a useful running list of blended-learning resources—articles, white papers, blogs, books, and school overviews.
Getting Smart, Tom Vander Ark’s blog, offers a list of his 60+ top articles on blended learning. Geared slightly more towards practitioners in the field, Vander Ark’s essays focus on new ideas, and this compilation is updated regularly.
When they first discover blended learning, people inevitably want to see what blended classrooms look like. To address this need, the Jaquelin Hume Foundation and a number of other funders began funding short videos to document these schools and their learning models.
Videos about Blended Learning Generally:
“The Fundamentals of Blended Learning” (6:00). Highlights the basics of blended learning, and explains how blended learning is different from traditional models that are simply technology-rich. Discusses how the common notion of schooling is being redefined to center on personalized instruction for students. Portrays the variety of blended-learning structures, and describes early results and how teachers are adapting. The video is produced by Education Elements, a firm that helps schools design blended-learning classrooms.
“The Future of Learning” (7:50). Takes a big-picture look at pathways to learning, and considers weaknesses in traditional learning methods. Produced by 2 Revolutions, a design lab that creates blended-learning pilots.
“Fixing Our Schools” (42:00). A news special by journalist Juan Williams, this explores blended-learning schools like Carpe Diem Academy, Florida’s virtual
-schooling program, and the School of One, which uses a student’s funding to pay for an individual technology program. It interviews experts Michael Horn, Joel Klein, and Jeb Bush, and offers a look into the lives of students and teachers involved in digital learning.
Videos from Inside Individual Blended-learning Schools:
“Blended Learning for Alliance School Transformation (BLAST)” (5:00). Portrays the Alliance for College-ready Public Schools in Los Angeles, and how its 20 schools are transitioning to blended learning. The video depicts a rotation model, where classes are broken into three segments: direct teacher instruction, small-group project-based collaboration, and online individual learning.
“Inside Carpe Diem” Short (1:29) or Long (8:48). These videos showcase one of the nation’s first schools to adopt blended learning. Founder Rick Ogston points out that most schools are centered on systems instead of students, and argues that Carpe Diem’s method blends the best of technology-based learning with face-to-face instruction.
“Inside KIPP Empower” (9:12). This video highlights the first KIPP school to adopt blended learning, KIPP Empower Academy, which opened in Los Angeles in 2010. This video directly addresses the criticism that technology in schools will eventually replace teachers. As various instructors explain, technology actually frees up time to focus on the needs of individual students. Outlines the financial benefits of blended learning. Facing an annual state-funding decrease of nearly $200,000, KIPP Empower turned to a blended learning model that allows for 28 students per class.
“Phaedrus Blended Learning” (9:47). Phaedrus is a project run by Seton Education Partners that has deployed blended learning at a Catholic school in San Francisco’s mission district. Led by Scott Hamilton, a key driver behind KIPP and Teach For America’s expansion, Phaedrus aims to use educational technology to substantially reduce operating costs and increase the academic performance of students in Catholic schools.
“Rocketeers in Action” (9:45). This video shows how Rocketship Education involves parents in schools and offers students individualized learning via a lab model in which students spend a quarter of their school time at computers honing skills they learned in traditional classes. Describes Rocketship’s successful teacher preparation and coaching methods, which rely on instant feedback for instructors from master teachers. (This was made before Rocketship’s 2013 announcement that it was moving away from centralized Learning Labs and shifting computers into the classroom.)
“Los Altos Unified” (3:01). A look inside fifth- and seventh-grade Khan Academy pilots in California, this video focuses on teachers’ experiences using Khan materials in their classrooms. They note that because students are able to progress at their own pace, this tool has been beneficial for both under-performing and high-performing students.