Across Idaho and the US, schools and districts are improving student engagement and learning by implementing blended learning strategies to increase the level of personalization a teacher is able to provide. This kind of transformation is not easy and falls outside the traditional skillset of most teachers and administrators. While the core mission of Idaho Digital Learning remains to work with school districts to provide students with online courses to supplement their campus learning and class schedules, our state virtual school addresses a wide range of educational needs including helping our districts make this critical transition to blended learning instruction. Idaho Digital Learning is supplying digital content, technology and professional development to improve learning in Idaho classrooms.
In 2009, Idaho Digital Learning anticipated this need and launched a statewide blended learning consortium to offer online courses and content, technology, teacher professional development in blended learning strategies and administrator training and planning services to support Idaho school districts interested in implementing a blended learning approach. Through the Idaho Digital Learning Blended Learning Consortium, we now provide district consortium members access to complete online courses that include assignments and assessments, as well as content only courses. Additional courses have been developed and shared among consortium members. Members are also able to access Idaho Digital Learning’s digital content repository of learning objects, and have access to Idaho Digital Learning content development specialists to support the creation of original multimedia interactive learning objects. Consortium member districts pay an annual membership fee based on the number of teachers and number of students participating.
Engaging content, learning processes and innovative tools facilitated through instructional technology enables Idaho teachers to create personalized learning environments in their classrooms. A suite of online and blended learning technologies have been assembled to provide a robust, engaging learning environment for online and blended learning. Classroom teachers can access complete online courses and/or content in either Agilix’s product Buzz or Blackboard learning management systems for course and student management, progress reporting, assessments and proactive performance data analysis and management. Digital content is aligned to Idaho standards to help teachers make the transition to teach to the Common Core Standards.
Implementing blended learning is a fundamental change in instruction. Consortium members receive onsite and online PD, learning management system access, and tech support. The Idaho Digital Learning PD Specialists provide strategic planning sessions with a goal to activate the district or school teams in the areas of collaboration, student choice/voice and inquiry/project-based approaches through a personalized blended learning environment. Idaho Digital Learning has established several indicators of success; the number of courses developed, number of teachers trained and using the Idaho Digital Learning courses in the classroom, consortium member and enrollment growth. The consortium is working toward gathering data pertaining to student growth and motivation.