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Expanding Opportunities Through Blended Learning

Expanding Opportunities Through Blended Learning

Walled Lake Consolidated School District in Oakland County, Michigan, is turning to online learning to offer students a wider range of educational opportunities very cost-effectively.

In 2008, Walled Lake began offering its summer school credit recovery classes online. The district enlisted the help of its teachers to review various offerings and selected an online learning provider whose curriculum was comparable to that of district courses. Walled Lake enrolled 300 students in these online courses and also provided face-to-face meetings with district teachers twice a week to help students with course material and track their progress. This blended strategy lowered the district’s costs of providing each summer school course by nearly 50%, reducing the cost per student from $194 to about $102.

Inspired by this success and students’ positive experiences with online learning, Walled Lake plans to begin allowing high school students to take both online and classroom-based courses during the school year. Students will continue to attend school at least four hours per day, but they may elect to enroll in up to two online courses each semester. As with its summer school courses, Walled Lake students’ online learning experiences will be supported by biweekly interactions with local teachers. This blended learning arrangement will accommodate students’ diverse learning styles and desire to work before or after school in ways that were not possible with full-time conventional instruction.

Walled Lake is also partnering with a local community college to make postsecondary education a reality for more of its high school students. Under the experimental agreement, 11th- and 12th-grade students may choose to enroll concurrently in high school and college, completing some college coursework online and some on the college campus, facilitated by the flexible scheduling system described above. The district will continue to claim full-time-equivalent funding for each student and will pay students’ tuition for courses taken at the community college during their high school years. This arrangement will enable Walled Lake students to complete an associate degree just one year after high school graduation.

Source: Submitted to the NETP web-site, edtechfuture.org.

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