RACERS GUIDE TO A BLENDED LEARNING DEADLINE: The Department of Education threw some districts into a quandary with its $400 million pot in the Race To The Top program. (Applications signalling a district's "intent to submit" are due on Thursday, August 30; full applications are due October 30.)
These grants are about personalizing learning, namely according to the government's description, about creating learning environments "...designed to significantly improve learning and teaching through the
personalization of strategies, tools, and supports for students and
educators," all neatly aligned with what it takes to succeed in college or build a career.
But how to do that? Most district leaders will likely draft plans that involve technology; many are already beginning to think about what "blended learning" could mean for their classrooms and students. For many, it's a big leap into the unknown.
A few groups are stepping up to describe the lay of the land. EPIC-Ed, a program launched on August 22 jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Ed, the Friday Institute and CoSN, aims to help educators make "the transition" to digital environments. It's also got a notice board for posting, say, webinars about blended learning such as this one today (August 29) sponsored by vendor, Education 360.
EdElements, which got started by consulting with schools about how to create blended learning environments, has compiled a thoughtful "toolkit" that lays out in 31 slides, a number of ways that educators can begin to think about what blended learning could mean. (Download a PDF of the slides here or drop a note directly to EdElements at RTT@edeelements.com).
The team is also planning four one-hour-long webinars on how to apply for these Race To the Top grants on September 5. (Register here.) "We wanted to focus on [blended learning models] achieveable in the short term," says Amy Jenkins, who is helping lead the EdElements program. Whether or not districts decide to apply for the RTT-D program, the EdElements slides are a handy introduction for school leaders.
One more great guide: the nonprofit Innosight Institute offers profiles of about 40 schools trying different approaches to blended learning. Even more timely: its own, a cleanly written, 13-page report that provides another snapshot of how to think about personalized learning. (Get the latest Innosight report here.)