Blended Learning and Blending In

 In Blog Posts

Providing educational programs and solutions that meet the unique needs of schools around the world.

The education industry has traditionally been very slow to change – and in fact, most schools continue to use same teaching practices that were used during the industrial revolution, when we were training students to enter the workforce with skills relevant to their generation. Unfortunately, most our students continue being taught with outdated methods, using old-fashioned textbooks, in traditional brick and mortar schools.

However, the industry is showing signs that they are ready for change. In the last five to ten years, progressive institutions around the world have been looking for ways to create more effective and efficient education experience for students.

Schools and districts are exploring the use of technology to provide more differentiated instruction and to offer expanded curriculum to students – no matter their ability, location or socioeconomic status. These schools understand that we are teaching students today for jobs that might not even exist yet – and we need to provide them with the skills for future success.

One of the ways schools have begun to implement technology is through blended learning practices.

Blended Learning Basics

Blended learning, a style of learning in which students expand their educational experience by participating in remote / online learning in addition to working in traditional classrooms, is a fundamental shift in traditional education.

When implementing a blended learning model, it is imperative that the online and in-class curriculum is integrated and coordinated to keep instruction moving forward to provide an effective learning environment. This unique learning model gives teachers an opportunity to provide differentiated instruction to each student based on their specific needs and offers a variety of benefits to both students and teachers.

Benefits of Blended Learning

  •  Access to global resource materials online – assigned curriculum does not need to be textbook focused, it can come from a variety of sources, offering a more well-rounded view of the content
  • Self-pacing – students work at their own pace, eliminating frustration and anxiety that comes with the need to keep up in a traditional classroom.
  • Accommodating different learning styles, allows students to learn and retain more information in the way that works best for them
  • Promoting student autonomy/responsibility – giving students the task of driving their own education will help them to be better prepared for their future – both personal and professional.

Implementing Blended Learning Outside of the US

There are many programs that provide exceptional blended learning systems to schools in the US, but there can be challenges when delivering these same models to schools and districts in other areas of the world.

While there is no official count of the number of schools world-wide, it is estimated that there are anywhere from 3 – 6 million primary and secondary institutions around the globe. Each country (and sometimes each region within a country) has its own unique set of needs and requirements for their schools – including in-country standards, compliance with government education policies, curriculum, testing requirements and overall school structure.

Due to these differences, educational publishers and educational technology companies face a multitude of challenges when localizing their products for different regions. While most companies are prepared for basic customization like translations, delivering a system that accommodates each international schools’ distinctive needs can be extremely difficult.

In order to successfully deliver blended learning models to international schools, it is imperative that service providers deliver a program that “blends in” with the needs and requirements that each location brings. Some in-country considerations include:

  • Government requirements and Ministry of Education standards
  • Local currency rates
  • Accommodation of multiple languages for parents and school administrators who do not speak English
  • Flexible learning tracks based on in-country requirements
  • Flexible learning plans for students
  • Flexible start and completion dates based on local semester and school year starts
  • Supplemental in country content – reflected on student transcripts
  • Experiential learning programs – understanding framework and credit requirements
  • Required extra programs such as STEM certificates, ELL, remediation, summer school, and more

Using ASSIST Education to Implement Blended Learning while Blending in with Local Requirements

ASSIST Education provides education institutions with the tools to manage all school data in and integrated education management system that includes:

  • Student information
  • Curriculum Management
  • Learning management

As part of their commitment to provide a quality educational experience to schools around the world, ASSIST has worked diligently to create an integrated blended learning system that can be customized to any country or region.

Implemented in diverse locations like Mexico, Brazil, Dubai, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, and several other countries, ASSIST has experience in uncovering and understanding the financial, cultural, academic, and government requirements of each school partnership. Every implementation ASSIST has executed has included special services and features required by that partner.

Paramount to the success and effectiveness of the program is ASSIST’s ability to meet school management criteria while also being flexible enough to meet extraneous in-country specifications. Being able to meet the needs of individual students within these specifications is a game changer for ASSIST partner schools.

ASSIST delivers typical school models in an atypical manner, allowing for the uncommon features to become common; establishing a unique program to each school that perfectly blends in.

ASSIST Flexible Blended Learning Model

Benefits

Implementing the customized ASSIST blended learning platform saves classroom teachers countless hours on administrative tasks, giving them their time back to focus on student outcomes and deploy individualized instruction where needed.  Teachers can be in control of their traditional classroom setting with the added benefits of greatly reduced prep times, computer graded activities and assessments where desired, and built in reporting features.

ASSIST provides complete course content that supports teachers and classroom facilitators with comprehensive standards aligned lesson planning, assessments & student activities based on regional needs.  This content is aimed at developing the critical thinking and skills that are aligned to the needs of this generation of students as well as to their specific country needs.

In addition, with the adoption of a Flex School model delivered by ASSIST, all modules, features and benefits of a digital environment are encompassed in a single, intuitive platform that greatly reduces overall school costs while providing an easy to use and flexible school-wide management environment. 

Learning Centers

Learning centers provide students with an educational experience outside the confines of a traditional school. These centers can provide multi-level instructional support to students of all abilities and tend to promote more self-directed and self-paced learning.

One way in which ASSIST has been able to help international educational institutions to more easily set up a blended learning environment for their students, is through Learning Centers.

The benefits of utilizing Learning Centers include:

  • Specific schooling and learning models can be easily added to existing centers
  • Learning centers can have flexibility in standards and government requirements, allowing them to be set up more quickly than a physical school
  • ASSIST programs can be customized to reflect the “in country” needs with specific learning paths for Career and Technical Education (CTE), English Language Learning (ELL)
  • Centers support flexible start dates
  • Full in-country staff support

Blended Learning and Blending In

Whether setting up a blended learning environment in a traditional school or in a learning center, it is important to be aware of the nuances and requirements of each particular audience. Schools around the globe have very specific needs – and implementing blended learning in any location demands awareness and flexibility in academics, culture, and financial and government requirements.

Through their experience with implementing blended learning systems around the world, ASSIST Education has developed the tools needed to create a program that blends in to any location, creating a customized learning experience for each school.

Contact ASSIST Education for more information, or to discuss your own blended learning program needs.

Michael Spencer
Michael is CEO/Co-Founder of ASSIST L.L.C. and Managing Partner at Global Expansion Strategies. He is the former Senior Director of International Business at K12 and prior Senior Vice President of The American Education Corporation. An education and technology industry veteran, he is the former president and founder of One2OneMate, Vice President/Co-Founder of QuickPAD Technology Corporation, Vice President/Co-Founder of H45 Technology, and several other Silicon Valley startups, all of which have received multiple awards for innovation and product development. His expertise spans from advocating for one-to-one, mobile and blended learning environments where tailored tools providing individualized education are key to student performance and achievement, to the international front where he has worked with European, Latin American, African and Asian governments and school systems to bring about 21st-century educational reforms. Michael is fluent in Spanish, he has traveled extensively and enjoys the entrepreneurial side of business. He is a regular columnist for EdTech Digest where he writes the Smarter Schools column.
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