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Another sign of growing interest in blended learning: A longtime purveyor of online courses now offers consulting services for schools that want to make the high-tech leap.
The company, Edgenuity, already known for providing online K-12 course offerings, plans to expand its business into advising schools on how to manage a change to blended learning. For my weekly Blended Learning Newsletter, I interviewed the CEO of the company, Sari Factor. She’s a former teacher and a longtime leader in education publishing, so I wanted to hear more about her perspective on trends in blended learning, and why the company is expanding its services.
More blended learning news follows, of course, but first, here are some excerpts from my conversation with Factor.
Q: How and why is the company growing?
A: Over the past three and a half to four years, we have decidedly moved the company from being the credit recovery provider to being the provider for programs that were for all learners.* What we’re really starting to see now is momentum around the mainstream market, moving towards blended learning. That’s slower than we’d like, because we really believe in the power of using technology to improve student performance, but it’s definitely gaining momentum.
Q: What do you see as the key success factors for schools that are transitioning to blended learning?
A: Part of it is the mindset that the teachers and the administrators are indeed ready to change. That’s a huge piece, and if you look at the iNACOL standards, the whole mindset is a big piece of the first step, and that’s going to be true any time you try to change a practice or change an organization. You have to have the willingness to change. One of the things that we have found is that the more successful programs start with the coalition of the willing — the people who really want to and are excited about moving towards blended learning. You get some momentum within a school or district before you try to roll it out more broadly.
Q: Why do you believe you can help districts succeed? Is it the people you’ve hired or the research you’ve studied?
A: It’s the people and the experience those people have. We’ve been working with schools. We’ve been doing blended learning for upwards of five years. The company is 15 years old, but in the early days it was all online learning and the kids were off in a lab to themselves, doing work at home, studying with our courseware. But over the last five years we have been increasingly working with districts doing blended learning, so all of our consulting staff have been working with those schools. We have learned tremendously from that, and we’ve hired people who have themselves implemented blended learning in their own schools and districts.
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*An earlier version of this interview quoted Sari Factor, CEO of Edgenuity, as saying the company had expanded from being a credit recovery provider to providing programs for “advanced” learners. A spokeswoman for Factor said that the word “advanced” should be “all,” to more accurately convey how Factor describes the company today.