Give Parents Seats at the Blended Learning Implementation Table

Middle school students sitting in a classroom working on laptops

Schools across the country are implementing innovative models of teaching and learning such as blended and online learning to better engage students, foster greater personalization, and promote student ownership of their learning. These new models are playing out from individual courses and classrooms to school-wide, district-wide and even statewide initiatives. While implementation looks different depending on specific learning goals, there are some universal key elements that warrant thoughtful consideration and attention of school and district leaders. These elements include but are not limited to teacher preparation and support, digital content selection, technology, and leadership.

Successful school leaders also know that leading any change effort requires the support of key stakeholders. With implementation of blended and online learning, well-intentioned leaders focus on teachers, staff and students but often neglect one of the most important groups to engage…parents!

Having worked with numerous schools in their efforts to build blended and online learning initiatives, I have seen firsthand how parent engagement boosts the likelihood of overall success. I’ve unfortunately seen several examples that prove implementation is made even more daunting if parents are not informed and engaged regarding how these new learning models operate, how the role of the teacher will evolve into more empowering roles, and how increased ownership over their learning will ultimately improve the educational experience for their students.

Like many of us, the vast majority of parents attended a traditional learning environment whose instructional model had more in common with how their parents and grandparents experienced “school.” Changing the classroom to a model that is foreign to them can be confusing and met with many questions, and sometimes outright resistance based on flawed assumptions and misinformation.

This topic – the importance of gaining parental support for blended learning – is the topic of my upcoming session at the CITE 2016 Online Learning Conference. I hope you will join me as we explore this issue. I’ll describe how school leaders and teachers need to be thoughtful in how they explain to parents what blended learning is and the benefits to teachers and students. I’ll share important lessons on communications and messaging.

For more information on blended and online learning, please visit: http://www.inacol.org/resources/

Learn more about Cite 2016, Pearson’s annual online learning conference. The event will take place on February 9-11 in Amelia Island, Florida, both online and at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Newly expanded to include K-12 educators, the two and a half day conference will bring together more than 500 online learning program executives, faculty and administrators, corporate and professional training and development industry leaders, teachers, principals, and superintendents.

With more than 300,000 K-12 students learning virtually, online and blended learning is reaching more students than ever before. To support this growing trend, 2016 Cite will feature a K-12 learning track, “Next Generation for Online & Blended Learning”, providing K-12 educators with the opportunity to share ideas and exchange best practices that will help prepare learners of all ages to compete in an ever-changing, global economy.

 

About the Author
Bruce Friend

Bruce Friend

With two decades of online learning experience, Bruce Friend is recognized as one of the pioneers in K-12 digital learning. Bruce has the unique experience of successfully establishing online and blended programs that span state-wide efforts, district programs, home school families, and private organizations. He has expertise in all operations of online and blended learning programs including start up, legislative support, staffing, funding, marketing, student support; etc. Bruce has routinely been asked to advise educational leaders, elected officials, and families on issues related to online and blended learning and has proven experience in helping organizations grow highly successful online and blended learning programs.