Blended Learning Pilots

Building a strong foundation for teaching and learning innovations

So What is “Blended Learning?”

According to the Clayton Christensen Institute, “blended learning is any time a student learns in part in a classroom and in part through online delivery with some element of differentiation for individual students in time, place, path or pace.”

Education Elements adds that “blended learning leverages technology to create a learning environment where students have daily opportunities for individualized learning and teachers have the opportunities, resources and time to differentiate small group instruction in a classroom.”

At the Rogers Family Foundation, we aim to make teaching and learning as efficient and effective as possible by leveraging new uses of time, space, staff and content to create a mastery-based, data-driven, iterative school environment, enabled by blending together the best of traditional instruction, cycles of learner-driven goal setting and reflection, and personalized learning.

Pilot Overview

Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, the Rogers Family Foundation and partner foundations invested in four Oakland Unified School District schools to pilot blended-learning models. During the 2013-14 school year the pilot expanded to a second cohort that included two district-run middle schools and two local public charter schools.

All eight pilot schools, listed below, utilized technology and digital content as one strategy to increase personalized instruction for students. Teachers focused more of their time and resources on small group instruction, increasing students’ ownership over their learning, and helping all stakeholders make better use of data. Schools phased in new pedagogies and online content over three years, which allowed them to adjust and learn along the way.

Our Blended Learning Overview Guide provides more details about each school’s blended learning model, staffing, scheduling, digital content, hardware, and other pilot decisions, as well as the overall pilot including size, budget, timeline, and other details for this million-dollar investment to revolutionize teaching and learning in Oakland. Our Blended Learning Pilot Case Studies provide updates and learnings over the three-year implementation period:

While the work of the Blended Learning Pilot is largely complete, schools in Cohort Two are currently in their last year of funding. We will post a final case study in the fall of 2016 to capture all key learnings from the pilot. Transparently, it is not always easy to document and codify the many aspects of the implementations as iteration and change is key dynamic to work in fundamental ways.

Theory of Change

Our Blended Learning Pilot was guided by the belief that blended learning can improve and leverage four primary areas of teaching and learning in order to increase student achievement as well as teacher satisfaction and efficacy:

  1. Differentiated content and instruction
  2. Small group instruction
  3. Data-driven instruction
  4. Student ownership of their learning

Blended Learning Pilot Schools

During the pilot, each of the eight cohort schools listed below had a strong leader in place, a good instructional foundation, a positive professional learning culture, and data-driven teaching strategies. However, these schools (like most public schools) faced serious obstacles that prevented them from fully leveraging technology for improved student achievement and teacher satisfaction. Despite this, efforts continue across all of these schools to fully realize the potential of blended learning. One of these schools, ASCEND, has joined us in the next phase of this work, the Next Generation Learning Challenge in Oakland.

Cohort One Schools

  • Elmhurst Community Prep, OUSD
  • EnCompass Academy, OUSD
  • Korematsu Discovery Academy, OUSD
  • Madison Park Academy, OUSD

Cohort Two Schools

  • ASCEND, Education for Change
  • Aspire Triumph Technology Academy, Aspire Public Schools
  • Bret Harte Middle School, OUSD
  • Edna Brewer Middle School, OUSD