Bridging the gap between traditional and innovative teaching and learning

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Feb 9, 2017

In a field aiming to shift educational practices from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age, educators on the ground today work in a distinctly brave new world. Leaders who are innovating around classroom instruction by adopting nascent practices of blending and personalizing learning are still on the periphery of a system very much entrenched in a time-based world of education.

These educators stand to benefit from opportunities to connect across geographical boundaries to share stories and best practices, learn from each other, and help bridge the gap between traditional practice and innovative teaching and learning. That is why the Christensen Institute created the Blended Learning Universe, or BLU, for practitioners to understand how other individuals, schools, districts, and school networks are changing the way students learn. The BLU is a one-stop resource to learn about blended learning, but it’s also a growing hub of learning and practice for expert implementers. The site includes a school directory, which now contains close to 500 profiles of schools, districts, and charter management organizations that are implementing some form of blended learning.

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At the Christensen Institute, we are thrilled to introduce the BLU Personalized Learning Forum, a Q&A platform where leaders can connect to discuss and share new-age classroom practices on a deeper level. At a time when the field is increasingly focused on transforming our educational model into one that personalizes learning for all students, blended learning, now more than ever, is poised to be a critical lever for schools to make new levels of personalization not just feasible but scalable.

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For educators in the trenches of blended learning, here are five ways you can take advantage of the BLU:

1. Tell your school’s story and be recognized

The field needs stories of blended and personalized learning to understand challenges, successes, and failures. The BLU is a convenient, direct way for teachers and leaders who are already in the blended-learning trenches to tell their schools’ stories. To be part of the BLU school directory, simply create a school or district profile that describes your blended model(s), explains your implementation process, highlights your go-to edtech products, and offers advice to other education leaders based on your blended-learning initiatives.

2. Share your expertise

Blended-learning leaders from around the world are gathering on the BLU Forum to talk shop. It’s a space for you to dive deeper into the questions and challenges that matter most to your blended-learning programs, whether they be updating professional development strategies, discovering the right learning platforms for your students, tweaking your model, or experimenting with something completely different. We hope the BLU Forum brings together newcomers to blended and personalized learning practices, as well as experts with years under their belt who can help the world benefit from their unique experiences.

3. Connect with other innovators

Time and again, when we speak with school leaders about how they got started in blended and personalized learning, they say one of the most influential steps they took was visiting other schools. Of course, second to that are virtual connections that allow us to learn from another school’s practices. The BLU Forum will help you to identify educators who are in a similar phase of transformation as yourself as well as those who may have successfully advanced to another stage of blended learning. We invite you to join the forum to get social and make connections that might change the way you think about instructional and school design. Being a part of the BLU has occasional perks, too. Last fall, BLU schools had the unique opportunity to apply to present at the upcoming Blended and Personalized Learning Conference (BPLC), co-hosted by the Highlander Institute, The Learning Accelerator, and the Christensen Institute. We now have a cohort of roughly 30 BLU educators who will be joining us this March to speak about their experiences and lessons learned from the field.

4. Follow trends and stay up-to-date on research

At the Christensen Institute, our main goal for the BLU is to gather massive, relevant data on blended and personalized practices that we can analyze and share with the field. The BLU’s blog and monthly newsletter are our means to get key takeaways and insights to you. We’re constantly collecting stories and compiling data from schools around the world, and we hope the BLU can be the place for you to learn from these findings with us.

5. Learn how to launch blended learning that personalizes instruction

For leaders looking to make the instructional transition to blended learning, the BLU’s resource pages house information, diagrams, and videos on tested models of blended learning, which include the Station Rotation, Flipped Classroom, Flex, Enriched Virtual, and more. There are also BLU_prints that elucidate 10 key design steps to going blended: from designing student and teacher experiences to designing the physical and virtual learning spaces, and from setting the culture to performing discovery-driven planning. For anyone with nitty-gritty questions, check out the BLU Forum to engage with people who know exactly where you’ve been and have great ideas about where you could go.

We look forward to meeting you on the BLU. Join the conversation on the BLU Forum or add your school or district to the BLU.

This piece was originally published on Getting Smart.

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Jenny White

Jenny White is the Assistant to the Director of Education as well as Content Manager of the Blended Learning Universe, a comprehensive online hub filled with blended-learning resources and a dynamic directory of blended-learning programs worldwide