Colorado appears to be at the forefront of education innovation and integrating brick-and-mortar classroom instruction with online learning. For example, in rural Colorado, a survey of education board directors finds that 84% of rural Coloradans take online or blended learning classes. And, foundations and non-profits are readily investing in this new field with contributions from organizations such as the Colorado Legacy Foundation (CLF) to push blended and online learning further in the mindsets and lives of Coloradans.
Some of the initial results from these online and blended learning programs are encouraging, but there is still room to grow and progress to be made. But, considering how far the U.S. has fallen in recent years compared to the world’s advancing education practices, this provides American parents and children with an additional tool to prepare for the real world.
A policy paper  published by the Independence Institute and the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, takes an in-depth look at the several options that Coloradan parents and children face in education.
As outlined by written by Krista Kafer, a Senior Fellow at the Education Policy Center, the four options are as follows:
- Rotation: Students alternate between face-to-face instruction and online lesson delivery in a classroom, computer lab or at home
- Flex: Online learning coupled with on-site support, tutoring and small-group instruction by teachers
- Self-blend: Students have traditional in-class instruction with self-selected courses at home
- Enriched Virtual: Online classes at home and check in with teachers on-site as needed
By some of their estimates, up to 50% of classes in the next decade at the high school level will be online at some point. This could lead to a trickle-up effect, where brick-and-mortar colleges will see their attendances and enrollment drop as online classes and coursework become the norm. As federal aid is now a rarity for most colleges, these institutions may have to cut back on exorbitant tuition and book costs in order to adjust to the electronics and online-focused age.
But, the Clayton Christensen Institute warned that not all blended education approaches are as cost-efficient as these examples. Some will cost more and produce varying levels of results and student performance, which is why it is important to mix these approaches according to the needs of the community and its students.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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