The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning


“There is a significant risk that the existing
education system will co-opt online learning as it blends into its current
flawed model.” That’s the main argument of this white paper by Michael Horn and
Heather Staker of Innosight Institute. As the authors see it, blended
learning—which is an education model blending online learning with
brick-and-mortar instruction—is a “disruptive innovation” with the potential to
fundamentally redesign American education. However, without targeted shifts in
policy, the benefits of this new education model will be squandered, tied down
by arcane statutes and regulations. To explain, the authors offer a concise
tutorial on the varieties of blended learning. They identify and define six
models, moving up the spectrum from the “face-to-face driven” model (which uses
online learning as a supplement, like High Tech High) all the way to the
“online driver” model (which allows students to learn remotely, so long as a
requisite GPA is maintained). It is from these examples that Horn and Staker
draw their policy recommendations. Some thoughts—like nixing caps on enrollment
and class-size mandates—would provide but a modest makeover for education
provision. But, others—including creating dynamic, integrated systems for
better syncing among various providers’ content and services—may truly spell profound
shifts in the way that students access education.

Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker, “The
Rise of K-12 Blended Learning
,” (Mountain View, CA: Innosight Institute, January

Daniela Fairchild
Daniela Fairchild is a Development Manager and Policy Analyst at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute