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Friday, May 3, 2013

Blended Learning is About Meeting The Needs of All of Our Students

This post was written for our school newsletter 

This week OCA hosted a visit from members of the TheAlvo Institute.  One of the leading blended learning design firms in the Nation, and currently works with over 45 Jewish Day Schools through the Jewish Education Project.Through a generous grant from the Avi Chai Foundation, the The Alvo Institute will be working with OCA over the next year to develop a blended learning pilot program in support of OCA’ s vision to provide rigorous and supportive instruction to help all students thrive.  We believe that blending traditional instruction with the very best of technology enhanced and data driven practices will help us realize this vision.
According to the Innosight Institute, a primer think tank looking to apply innovation to education, blended learning is “a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path and/or pace.” We will be working with the team at Alvo to pilot and define what blended learning will look at Ohr Chadash.
Blended learning is an educational approach that combines of teacher driven instruction and online learning.  To properly differentiate, we need to truly understand each student and tailor the blended learning program according to their needs.
Rebecca Tomasini, the Founder and CEO of The Alvo Institute, believes that, “Blended Learning brings together the best from traditional instruction together with the most relevant and appropriate online and technology-supported instructional innovations to create a variety of integrated instructional experiences. In a blended model, teachers and students make decisions about a student’s instructional experiences based on close and regular analysis of real time student data.”
According to the Avi Chai Foundation, blended learning makes individualization and differentiation easier, faster to implement and more cost-effective”( PEJE : “According To His Way: Blended Learning “;a white paper about how Jewish Day Schools are using blended learning)
In addition to traditional curriculum, online resources can open up many new instructional opportunities that otherwise could not be offered in a smaller school such as OCA. For example, we are working with the organization BonyimB’Yachad to offer a course in music appreciation to our 6th and 7th grade girls once a week. If this pilot is successful we are looking at expand into other creative and interesting opportunities for next year.
While taking on a new project like blended learning is both exciting and overwhelming, this educational approach is the means by which OCA will meet the needs of all of our students and enhance the education at OCA.

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