Introduction

Educating students who have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st Century is a daunting challenge for educators. We are facing educational crises needing new solutions. One of the crises is the High School dropout rate. “Nearly one-third of students don’t earn a high school diploma. Last year, 1.3 million U.S. students failed to graduate from high school. This year, an average of 7,200 students - every day – will drop out of school.” (1) A second but related crisis is literacy. How will we compete in the global economy when students cannot read? “One-third of fourth graders and one quarter of eighth graders are functionally illiterate” according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2) One solution? Blended Learning.


Simply put, our students deserve the opportunity to be trained and educated in the skills that will allow them to compete in the global marketplace. Blended learning is at the core of that skill set. Online learning is rapidly expanding in and out of the traditional classroom. The 2010 Generation M!: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation published a study showing that 8-18 year-olds spend an average of 53 hours each week consuming media; multimedia is clearly a student’s chosen modality. (3) In grades K-12, the use of online learning is increasing at 30% annually and is available to students in 48 states plus Washington, DC. (4)


Six Rivers understands this revolution in learning and offers an innovative instructional model that engages students and offers them the opportunity to gain 21st century skills. They are providing them with a blended learning opportunity in order to attack weak reading skills, which contributes to poor academic performance, disengagement and for some dropping out of high school. In California alone, over 199,400 students did not graduate from high schools in 2010. The lost lifetime earnings in California for that class of dropouts alone total nearly $52 billion. If California’s high schools graduated all of their students ready for college, the state could save as much as $688 million a year in community college remediation costs and lost earnings. California’s economy could see a combination of crime-related savings and additional revenue of about $1.1 billion each year if the male high school graduation rate increased by just 5 percent.(5) How will we compete in the global economy when students cannot read? If we can stem the tide of illiteracy by providing effective reading instruction, it will increase graduation rates, save the state money and contribute to the overall health of our nation.


While most educators agree that something must be done to address these educational crises, the idea of starting a Blended Model program can be a daunting task. Some may even raise the red flag and surrender before they begin. The purpose of this handbook is to provide non-biased information related to first understanding the basics on how online learning actually works and then provide a step-by-step start-up process to integrating 21st century technology with traditional face-to-face instruction. This handbook gives you the practical help you need to get started.


In addition to this handbook, there are several resources to support you on your journey. Integrated Educational Strategies  ( www.fromvisiontoreality.org) is a non-profit organization run by seasoned educators and provides step-by-step assistance from planning to implementation. Innosight Institute ( www.innosightinstitute.org) has just recently published a white paper entitled “The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: A Profile of Emerging Models.” Several different models of blended programs are defined in the paper. The International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL) ( www.inacol.org) is a non-profit membership organization that supports and drives innovation in online learning through advocacy, research and resources.


Many terms related to online education have been tossed around the educational water cooler in recent years. The definitions of these terms can vary greatly depending on who uses them. Before moving forward you may want to glance through the glossary of common terms and their definitions as defined by industry leaders in the Glossary to provide greater clarity while reading the handbook.

 

Works Cited
1. McKinsey and Company, “The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools”, 2009 (p 7). On-line from:
http://www.mckinsey.com/app_media/images/page_images/offices/socialsector/pdf/achievement_gap_report.pdf


2. National Center for Education Statistics, “The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009.” Pg. 1. Publication online. Available from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pdf/main2009/2010458.pdf.


3. 2010 Generation M!: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
http://kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm


4. Alliance for Excellent Education: California State Scorecard
http://www.all4ed.org/files/California.pdf


5. National Center for Education, Statistics at the U.S. Department of Education Issue Brief on Rates of Computer and Internet Use by Children in Nursery School and Students in Kindergarten Through Twelfth Grade: 2003.
http://nces.ed.gov/programs/quarterly/vol_7/1_2/4_4.asp


6. Watson, John, and Jennifer Ryan. Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning. Rep. INACOL, Nov. 2010. Web. 9 May 2011. www.inacol.org/research/docs/KeepingPace07-color.pdf .