Spotlight on: The flex model of blended learning

In the past few years, blended learning has taken root in many classrooms. Forward leaning educators have “flipped” classrooms and leveraged technology as learning stations in their schoolrooms. Building leadership is creatively answering the call to student demand for technology access and school district administration is seeking scalable learning models and strategies. As the blended learning models in education gain traction across the country, many school districts are no longer debating not whether or not they should implement blended learning, but how they will do it and will it positively impact student progression.

As the blended learning model of education gains traction across the country, many school districts are no longer debating whether or not they should implement blended learning, but rather which model they should choose. For many secondary schools or programs helping dropouts earn their diplomas, the flex model is able to empower those individuals to achieve in a way they never have before. For others the flex model is a way to more deeply personalize instructional time empowering teachers to focus more on the application of knowledge while adaptive instructional technology helps students with the acquisition of knowledge.

How does it work?
With the flex model, students attend a physical school building and have a schedule that will vary based on the student’s specific learning needs. This level of differentiated planning lends itself to instructional technology playing a key role with the acquisition of knowledge for these learners. Because all students are in a central location as new academic concepts are being delivered digitally, teachers are able to provide support through small group discussions or one-on-one tutoring. Most schools using the flex model rely on adaptive learning software to ensure that students fully understand each concept before moving forward in the curriculum.

What are the benefits?
The flex model of blended learning offers students more freedom throughout the school day, and in practice has proved to be particularly effective in engaging students who have struggled with school in the past. It’s not a traditional classroom structure – students learn at their own pace online and have teachers available in person to deliver small group instruction, facilitate collaborative projects, or deliver small group or 1:1 intervention or academic supplements. The flex model allows for more independent learning, empowering students to take charge of their education. This model can be very appealing for students who have dropped out of school and helping them earn the credits they need to receive a diploma.

Are schools seeing results?
A number of school systems have taken on the flex model of blended learning, including Carpe Diem Learning Systems, Flex Public Schools and iPrep Academy. Previously only operating in Arizona, Carpe Diem will soon expand into Ohio and Indiana. Carpe Diem’s high school graduation rate in 2012 was near 91 percent, compared to Arizona’s 78 percent. Carpe Diem students also scored first in the country in math in 2010, and have been raising reading scores across grade levels since 2007.

Do students need their own technology?
The flex model of blended learning requires one-to-one technology access. BYOD or BYOT strategies are emerging, but not well developed within the established learning model. More often, schools who take on the flex model of learning to cater to students’ academic needs and provide enough digital devices within the physical environment to accommodate each student. More sophisticated content portals, learning management systems, and ecosystems have the potential to change this paradigm. Technology with simplified access to the right content for that learner, available for them to work independently is paramount for success within the flex model.

Want to learn more about blended learning? Check out our latest white paper titled, Introduction To Blended Learning For Elementary Schools, here.