This week, we'll discuss the specific, unique benefits of online modalities harnessed by the blended approach - and why it really matters. As discussed in the Findings of the Center for Promise Report: Blended Learning Offers Promise as a Strategy for Re-engaging Students, blended learning can help schools build the 21st century workforce through personalized, tech-based learning. Not only is this model dynamic in that it fits the unique needs of the student body, but it aligns with the lifestyle of the modern learner, helps students build social capital, and provides new benefits to instructors so that they may provide individualized support for the student. Below are the most salient aspects of how technology in the blended learning space can help prepare students for brighter futures:

Gaining Meaningful Skillsets

A competency-based model has a higher standard for student learning, and both pure online learning and a blended model of online and instructor-led learning allow for competency-based programs to work. This system measures a learner's level of understanding for a specific subject, rather than the amount of time students spend studying material. Students progress at their own pace, and only advance to the next lesson or course if they have mastered that specific set of skills. Instead of studying for tests, students will study to learn material, and work until they can accomplish a skill. This model ensures students have the skills to help them succeed, which is the cornerstone of the blended approach. In addition, schools and education programs can work with surrounding communities - employers and colleges, to understand what skills are the most valued in the current market. This dynamic can inform the blended learning curriculums and allowing students to gain relevant, sought-after skill sets.

Empowering Students to Prepare for Their Futures

Blended learning can work to empower students to take control of their education and their futures. A flexible model can be compatible with the schedules of re-engaged and adult learners who have responsibilities outside of the classroom. Online components are also suited to learner's needs, which sharply departs from traditional proficiency-based model at schools. A blended learning experience is customized to support each student's unique learning style. A student can select between multiple options for content delivery, the speed they wish to progress at, and when and where they want to learn. What's more, students have the benefit of developing a critical set of skills and habits through working with online modalities; as tech augments self-paced learning, this allowing student to take control over their destinies. As students use technology to become critical thinkers, they practice time management, are held accountable, work independently, and can take as much initiative over their studies as they like. These adult life skills are wonderful preparation for postsecondary or career success.

Giving Teachers the Tools They Need to Help Students Thrive

Teachers and program facilitators are also empowered through the use of online and tech-based learning. In order to help students thrive in this new digital environment, teachers will gain a back-end suite of tools to monitor, track individual student progress in real-time, and provide feedback. Teachers now have the ability to step in and catch a student before they fall behind, and can work one-on-one with a student on a particular concept or lesson, maintaining student motivation and progress to completion. A student can receive private guidance online, so that they can feel comfortable asking questions without feeling intimidated. In addition, teachers are able to provide helpful feedback and positive recognition for a student's incremental process, further boosting student morale and self-confidence.

Read Part III - The Holistic Approach to Blended Learning

Read Part I - Introduction to the New Report

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