Carpe Diem’s Blended Learning

Source: Deseret News website, Jan 2013

Carpe Diem is perhaps one of the best examples in America of a new teaching phenomenon that could change the face of public education, especially at the K-12 level. It’s called “blended learning,” which combines face-to-face time with teachers with online instruction.

Students in online learning environments perform modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction, and blending online and face-to-face instruction increases that advantage, according to a 2009 U.S. Department of Education’s analysis of several studies.

… because there is no need to spend class time listening passively as teachers lecture, so students spend their off-computer time working in small groups, getting coaching from teachers, hearing from outside experts and doing hands-on activities in groups, Patrick said.

… the magic is happening off the computer, through peer tutoring, small-group instruction, projects, tinkering — all those things you would hope students would do. In many ways, the biggest surprise for me as I go into blended schools around the country is how much peer-to-peer interaction there is.”

Because students at the school can progress at their own pace, many are moving years ahead in the curriculum, he said, accumulating college credits while still in high school. And attending the school only four days a week frees up the students to work in career apprenticeships.

Changing teachers’ roles

Blended learning changes the way teachers spend their time, how much they know about each of their students’ progress, and when they know it. Ideally, the new model allows teachers to spend less time on mundane tasks like lesson planning and correcting daily assignments, freeing up more time to work with small groups of students who need special help and instigate collaborative projects that encourage critical thinking skills. With appropriate tracking software, teachers can see the mastery level of every student, every day.

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