Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

Blended and Online Learning

Magazine article Parenting for High Potential

Blended and Online Learning

Article excerpt

However, computers and the internet have also created opportunities for gifted students where learning is no longer confined to the classroom. An increasing number of students are participating in distance education programs, where they learn at any time, across geographic boundaries, and at their own pace. Distance learning can be a good option for gifted students who: attend schools with few advanced courses and gifted programs, cannot obtain early access to advanced courses, want to take additional advanced courses but cannot fit them into their school schedules, are not thriving in a typical school setting, or are home-schooled.2

Two types of distance learning options-online and blended-are becoming viable solutions for gifted students who require acceleration, flexible schedules, or an alternative to the traditional school setting. These formal, curriculum-based programs meet standards and learning objectives, may or may not include a remote teacher, and either fully or partially replace the bricks-and-mortar classroom experience. It's important to note that online and blended learning programs are dependent on technology; they are much different than in-classroom experiences complemented by technology.3 Technology used to watch a video, access a text book, or provide drill or skill practice is not considered blended or online learning.

There are multiple definitions for both blended and online learning, and nearly everyone you ask has a different opinion. Online learning is described by most experts as access to learning experiences via the use of some technology. With online learning, students participate in a formal course or program delivered remotely via the internet, where the student has control over when and where they learn, and how fast they progress through the material.

More and more online learning K-12 options are available to gifted learners in different flavors. These include:

* Full-time, private gifted online schools (e.g., Laurel Springs School)

* Full-time, public online schools in select states (e.g., Connections Academy)

* Online personalized learning programs in select curriculum areas, such as math, science, and English (e.g.,

* Session-based honors, Advanced Placement, or enrichment courses through gifted and talented centers (e.g., Northwestern University Center for Talent Development's Gifted Learning Links or Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth)

Blended learning options are also becoming more popular, often through a student's home school district. The Clayton Christensen Institute defines blended learning as a formal education program in which a student learns:4

* at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;

* at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and

* with connected modalities along his or her learning path within a course or subject to provide an integrated learning experience.

With blended learning, students learn in part through online learning and in part through direct classroom instruction. They have some control over where and when the work is done as well as the path and pace of learning. Home and school learning are connected to provide a seamless experience.5 This method delivers content along with voice and choice for the student within a learning management system (software used to deliver, track, and report).

The majority of blended-learning programs resemble one of four models: rotation, flex, a la carte, or enriched virtual.6

* Rotation. A course or subject in which students rotate on a fixed schedule or at the teacher's discretion between learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning. Other modalities might include activities such as small-group or full-class instruction, group projects, individual tutoring, and pencil-and-paper assignments. The students learn mostly on the brick-and-mortar campus, except for any homework assignments. …

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