Today, The Center for Promise, a research institute for America's Promise Alliance, released a new report titled "Blended Learning Offers Promise as a Strategy for Re-engaging Students." The take home points are resoundingly clear: blended learning is education for the future. Not only can this model work to re-engage at-risk youth and adult learners alike, blended learning offers a scalable solution to rehaul the way we teach as a whole. Alternative education schools and programs, workforce and community development programs all over the nation have taken the first steps in implementing, testing, and expanding blended learning classrooms and best practices.

This four-part blog series aims to highlight four key discussion topics drawn from the report - including what makes blended learning the education model of the future, and what the future holds for bringing blended learning at scale.

Brief Intro to the New Report

With support from Penn Foster, the Center for Promise sought out to examine the potential of blended learning as a viable educational alternative, and its effectiveness for re-engagement of at-risk youths. Researchers identified several programs in a variety of settings across the country that have harnessed unique blended-learning options for their students. The report then reviews the non-academic supports and career development options for students, and the staffing, technology, and success from each program. With insight into the many variations and forms blended learning can take on, researchers were then able to distill several key findings that define the ideal conditions and best practices that would best enable blended learning to be an excellent education alternative.

The Endless Customizability of Blended Learning

The Every Student Succeeds Act stresses that the one-size-fits-all model to schooling is inherently a failed approach to enabling positive student outcomes and preparedness, as every student, school, community, and district is different. As outlined in the new report, Blended Learning Offers Promise as a Strategy for Re-engaging Students, one of the essential components is that blended learning can take on many forms, whereas no two programs look alike. Blended learning is pliable, customizeable, and can serve to fill the needs of each unique school district, classroom, or alternative education program. Out of the box, blended learning pairs students with online learning and in-person instruction. Beyond that, it has the flexibility to incorporate a myriad of other enriching elements for students, including: holistic guidance and support, career development activities, community partnership programs, and flexible classroom hours for students with obligations outside of school.

Why Education Needs to be Flexible

Why does flexibility make blended learning the education model for the future? Though more investigation into measuring the outcomes on a wider scale is needed for this approach, blended learning has the capability to cater to America's changing student body. The notion of the "traditional' learner is transitioning to incorporate a much broader, much realistic persona of the modern day student. If educators, policy makers, employers, and community members are interested in developing and training a 21st century workforce, schools will need to move forward and lose the antiquated models and policies that restrict the growth, creativity, and technical skills-building for the students of today.

Read Part II - Blended Learning & Technology