KIPP charters try ‘blended learning’

15 Aug

n The ‘whole child’ approach to education moi said:

Moi writes this blog around a set of principles which are:

All children have a right to a good basic education.

  1. Education is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), the teacher(s), and the school. All parts of the partnership must be active and involved.

  2. Society should support and foster strong families.

  3. Society should promote the idea that parents are responsible for parenting their children and people who are not prepared to accept that responsibility should not be parenting children.

  4. The sexualization of the culture has had devastating effects on children, particularly young women. For many there has been the lure of the “booty call” rather than focusing on genuine achievement.

    Education is a life long pursuit

Many children do not have a positive education experience in the education system for a variety of reasons. Many educators are advocating for the “whole child” approach to increase the number of children who have a positive experience in the education process.

The National Education Association (NEA) describes the “whole child” approach to learning in the paper, Meeting the Needs of the Whole Child:

Meeting the needs of the whole child requires:

Addressing multiple dimensions, including students’ physical, social and emotional health and well-being.

Ensuring equity, adequacy and sustainability in resources and quality among public schools and districts.

Ensuring that students are actively engaged in a wide variety of experiences and settings within—and outside—the classroom.

Providing students with mentors and counselors as necessary to make them feel safe and secure.

Ensuring that the condition of schools is modern and up-to-date, and that schools provide access to a broad array of resources.

Reducing class size so that students receive the individualized attention they need to succeed.

Encouraging parental and community involvement.

ASCD, (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) along with the NEA is leading in the adoption of the “whole child” approach.

Julia Lawrence reports in the Education Week article, KIPP’s Latest LA School Experiments With Blended Learning:

Although the idea that online education could be viable for children as young as elementary-school age could appear obscene to some parents, for children who are surrounded by computers and gadgets like smartphones and tablets, keeping a school a computer-free zone would seem crazy. You can’t expect a children to take school seriously when their school experience is completely divorced from their everyday life….

Still, even that kind of instructional paradigm leaves a lot of room for useful applications of technology. One of the approaches gaining popularity, and that makes good use of the traditional classroom setting, is the idea of blended learning. Although some teaching is still done in the classroom — with desks, a blackboard and a teacher playing a traditional role — the “heavy lifting” is done with online tools.

KIPP, one of the most successful chains of charter schools in the country, is currently trying just this approach. The KIPP schools credit most of their success to lavishing individualized attention on all its students and by keeping their student-teacher ratios low. In most KIPP schools, class sizes are set at no higher than 20 students.

But the typical approach hit a snag. When severe fiscal constraints forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to rejigger its charter school funding formulas, the latest KIPP charter to be opened in South Los Angeles had its budget slashed by nearly $200,000. The traditional approach of small classrooms and plenty of teachers was no longer an option, so the school decided to attempt something different. http://www.educationnews.orgKIPP’s Latest LA School Experiments With Blended Learning

The “blended learning’ approach has been around several years.

Penn State University describes “blended learning” in What is Blended Learning?

What is Blended?

A blended learning approach combines face to face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach. In the past, digital materials have served in a supplementary role, helping to support face to face instruction.

For example, a blended approach to a traditional, face to face course might mean that the class meets once per week instead of the usual three-session format. Learning activities that otherwise would have taken place during classroom time can be moved online.

As of now, there is no consensus on a single agree-upon definition for blended learning. The Resources page contains cites to several articles that provide definitions. In addition, the terms “blended,” “hybrid,” and “mixed-mode” are used interchangeably in current research literature. For the purposes of the Blended Learning Initiative at Penn State, the term “blended” is preferred.

Why Blend?

The goal of a blended approach is to join the best aspects of both face to face and online instruction. Classroom time can be used to engage students in advanced interactive experiences.  Meanwhile, the online portion of the course can provide students with multimedia-rich content at any time of day, anywhere the student has internet access, from Penn State computer labs, the coffee shop, or the students’ homes. This allows for an increase in scheduling flexibility for students.

In addition to flexibility and convenience for students, according to research shared at the ALN Conference Workshop on Blended Learning & Higher Education November 17, 2005, there is early evidence that a blended instructional approach can result in learning outcome gains and increased enrollment retention (

Blended learning is on the rise in higher education. 93% of higher ed instructors and admin say they are using blended learning strategies somewhere in their institution. 7 in 10 expect more than 40% of their schools’ courses to be blended by 2013 (Bonk, C. J. & Graham, C. R. (Eds.). (in press).

How to Blend?

There are no rules in place to prescribe what the ideal blend might be (Bonk reference). The term “blended” encompasses a broad continuum, and can include any integration of face to face and online instructional content. The blend of face to face and online materials will vary depending on the content, the needs of the students, and the preferences of the instructor. See the section of this site titled Instructional Strategies for information on selecting an ideal blend and designing a blended course.


Creating high-quality blended instruction can present considerable challenges. Foremost is the need for resources to create the online materials to be used in the courses. Materials development is a time and labor intensive process, just as it is in any instructional medium. In addition, blended instruction is likely to be a new concept to many students and faculty. Instructional designers involved in course development or redesign will need to be able to answer questions related to:

  • what blended instruction is
  • why blended instruction  is employed 
  • how best to leverage the advantages of a blended approach

John Watson studied several “blended learning’ programs for the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL).

In Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education, Watson writes:

What are the key lessons that these and other blended programs demonstrate?

First, there is no single type of blended education, and over time we can expect all the spaces along the continuum from fully online to fully face-to-face to be filled. Online curricula will evolve as a ubiquitous component of classroom instruction. At the same time, an increasing number of programs that are primarily distance-based may include a face-to-face teaching component.

Programs designed to use a blended approach from the outset are still in a learning mode, and experience and data will provide guidelines, but absolutes will be hard to find. “As blended learning evolves it needs to stay student focused and avoid artificial, mandated boundaries,” says Susan Stagner, Vice-President, Management and Services, for K12 Inc.

Second, in the same way that online teaching is recognized as different than face-to-face teaching, blended learning is also unique and requires new methods of instruction, content development, and professional development. Online program leaders know that they cannot simply use face-to-face teaching methods in an online class, and vice versa. In addition, as content delivery becomes increasingly digital and online, assessments will need to be designed to test for content presented in various formats.

Third, for school districts and programs that use both fully online and blended courses, content will need to be readily accessible as learning objects to support both types of instruction. Text-based content will be less effective than animation, video, simulations and other engaging and illustrative content that can convey concepts visually and dynamically, more effectively than either paper or an instructor drawing on the blackboard. Teachers will need to be able to access online content quickly and easily to keep the flow of the classroom instruction moving.

Fourth, because blended learning relies on a significant level of web-based communication and content, it relies on a course management system or a learning management system to organize the content and facilitate communication. The presence of software that organizes the course may, in fact, be a distinguishing characteristic between a truly blended course and a face-to-face course that simply incorporates a few digital elements.

Finally, because blended learning can vary in many ways, it may present challenges for research and policy. Because it does not make sense to attempt to fit education into pre-set conceptions based on old methods of teaching and learning, state education policies should allow innovation in directions that may not be foreseeable at this time. In addition, research efforts aimed at quantifying the effects of educational technologies should account for the myriad types of learning that combine online and face-to-face delivery.

The question which must be addressed in whether “blended learning’ is appropriate for a particular learning situation.


The rise of K-12 blended learning  

Blended Learning Tool Kit                                  

7 Reasons Why Blended Learning Makes Sense

Blended Learning, Real Teaching – YouTube

6 Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Education                                    


Flipped classrooms are more difficult in poorer schools

The digital divide in classrooms                

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “KIPP charters try ‘blended learning’”


  1. KIPP charters try ‘blended learning’ | Online and or Blended Learning | - August 15, 2012

    […] n The ‘whole child’ approach to education moi said: Moi writes this blog around a set of principles which are: All children have a right to a good basic education. Education is a partnership betwee…  […]

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