The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Who would know more about using blended learning in the classroom than the educators who are doing this work?

A new book by Liz Arney, director of innovative learning at Aspire Public Schools, offers guidance and practical tips on how to use computers to enhance lessons. The book, Go Blended!, A Handbook for Blending Technology in Schools, is based on hands-on work by Arney and others who use blended learning in their schools. Nearly a third of schools in the Aspire charter school system — which spans 38 schools in California and Tennessee — use blended learning today. It started small. The first pilot was in 2011, in an Aspire school in Oakland, Calif.

I talked to Arney on the phone Friday. Here are a few edited snippets from our conversation.

What did you learn from your work?

When we first piloted blended learning it was really just to pilot it. I think that was a mistake – it was blended learning for blended learning’s sake. We quickly realized that we really needed to do was hire technology to serve a teaching problem.

If you had a crystal ball what would you say is next?

I see a lot more than I saw three years ago, that’s becoming normalized, and I am excited about that. So much of it is just getting technology use stabilized in a school. All the sudden then the magic can happen. In terms of what it’s going to look like, I feel like anything, two years from now. I feel like it’s going to so exceed my imagination. If you had asked me three years ago if one-third of Aspire schools were using blended, I would have said: “What are you talking about? We haven’t even figured things out yet.” I don’t think we’ve figured out everything. I think we all need to get focused on instruction. If people are talking about the tech too much that’s not good – not that I don’t want them to understand the tech. I just don’t want them to get seduced by it. I feel like the bright and shiny always worries me.

Want to know what worries Arney about blended learning? Continue reading at our Blended Learning newsletter. Or just subscribe right now.

Subscribe to our mailing list

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information. We will not consider letters that do not contain a full name and valid email address. You may submit news tips or ideas here without a full name, but not letters.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email address. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *