Blended learning: the new normal

Nichole Dobo, education reporter for The Hechinger Report, talks to Hari Sreenivasan about an intermediate school in Brooklyn, New York, where blended learning is the new normal.

TRANSCRIPT

BLENDED LEARNING COMBINES CLASSROOM TEACHERS WITH COMPUTER-ASSISTED LESSONS TO FACILITATE LEARNING.

AT AN INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL IN BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, A COMPUTER SYSTEM ORCHESTRATES HOW MATH CLASS UNFOLDS BASED ON DAILY STUDENT INPUT.

HERE TO EXPLAIN IS NICHOLE DOBO, EDUCATION REPORTER AT SO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PICTURE OF THIS CLASSROOM, AND YOU SAY THERE'S 150 KIDS IN THERE, IT MAKES ME WONDER, 'WAIT A MINUTE.

HOW ARE THESE KIDS LEARNING, AND WHAT DOES A COMPUTER HAVE TO DO WITH THIS?'

RIGHT.

THERE WILL BE SEVERAL TEACHERS WITHIN THIS ROOM, AND EVERY DAY AT THE END OF THE CLASS, THE STUDENTS TAKE A QUIZ ON THE COMPUTER.

AND THAT SETS THEIR SCHEDULE FOR THE NEXT DAY.

SO, THE NEXT DAY, WHEN THE STUDENTS ARRIVE, THEY DON'T KNOW WHICH TEACHER THEY'RE GONNA BE WITH OR WHAT PART OF THE ROOM THEY'RE GONNA BE IN.

SO, THERE ARE SEVERAL TV SCREENS, AND IT LOOKS SORT OF LIKE AN AIRPORT TERMINAL.

IT HAS YOUR NAME.

YOU LOOK FOR WHERE YOU'RE GOING THAT DAY AND WHAT KIND OF THING YOU'LL BE DOING.

SO, YOU GO TO A DIFFERENT SECTION OF THE CLASSROOM BASED ON WHAT THE COMPUTER PROGRAM HAS DECIDED BASED ON YOUR SCORE YESTERDAY.

THAT'S RIGHT.

OKAY, SO, WHEN YOU GET THIS ASSIGNMENT, IS THAT ALMOST LIKE AN INDIVIDUAL PLAN, BECAUSE THE COMPUTER'S TRACKING WHETHER YOU GOT A CONCEPT OR NOT, RIGHT?

THAT'S RIGHT.

YES, AND IT'S ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IN A SUBJECT LIKE MATH, WHICH BUILDS UPON ITSELF.

SO, IF A STUDENT, SAY, IS BELOW GRADE LEVEL, THEY CAN TAILOR LESSONS TO FIT THE STUDENT WHERE THEY ARE AT THAT MOMENT.

AND HOW DO THE TEACHERS LIKE IT?

YEAH, THEY SAID IT TOOK SOME GETTING USED TO BECAUSE THEY'RE SORT OF PLANNING A LESSON OVERNIGHT.

THEY NEVER KNOW WHERE THEY'RE GONNA BE THE NEXT DAY.

SO, IT TAKES A LOT OF TEACHER TRAINING TO MAKE THIS WORK.

AND HOW MANY STUDENTS ARE INVOLVED IN THIS?

RIGHT NOW THERE ARE MORE THAN 10,000 STUDENTS.

WOW.

YEAH, NATIONWIDE.

SO, IS IT WORKING?

YEAH, THEY'VE HAD SOME RESEARCH DONE WITH THE TEACHERS COLLEGE AT COLUMBIA, AND THE RESULTS WERE QUITE STRIKING.

THEY WERE ABLE TO MAKE SIGNIFICANT GROWTH.

SO, DOES THAT MEAN IN JUST TEST SCORES, OR DOES IT MEAN ON A CLASS-BY-CLASS BASIS?

IS THERE KIND OF AN A/B TEST TO SAY, 'LET'S LOOK AT THE KIDS WHO DIDN'T TRY THIS APPROACH AND KIDS WHO DID?'

YEAH.

THE RESEARCH KIND OF TAKES A LOOK AT WHAT THEIR EXPECTED GROWTH MIGHT BE, BASED ON THE GRADE LEVEL, THE DEMOGRAPHICS, AND WHAT THEIR ACTUAL GROWTH WAS ON TEST SCORES.

AND WHAT KIND OF TECHNOLOGY ARE THEY USING?

IS IT PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE?

IT COMES FROM NEW CLASSROOMS.

IT'S A NONPROFIT.

IT ACTUALLY STARTED IN NEW YORK CITY, AND WHAT THEY DO IS THEY CREATE THIS CURATED LIST OF LESSONS FROM ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT COMPANIES.

AND WHAT THEY'RE TRYING TO DO IS FIND THE BEST LESSON FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL SKILL.

OKAY, SO, THESE LESSONS -- THE TEACHERS KIND OF PICK THESE LESSONS OUT AND KIND OF CREATE A PLAYLIST FOR THEMSELVES?

RIGHT.

WHAT HAPPENS IS, IN THE HOME OFFICE, THEY GO THROUGH TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TEXTBOOKS, AND THEY FIND DIFFERENT LESSONS.

AND THEN, WHEN THE TEACHER GETS THEIR CLASS ASSIGNMENT FOR THE NEXT DAY, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO SEE WHICH RECOMMENDED LESSONS THERE ARE.

AND DO YOU THINK THIS IS GONNA CATCH ON?

YOU KNOW, BLENDED LEARNING, WHICH IS A COMBINATION OF IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION AND TECHNOLOGY, SEEMS TO BE DOING BETTER THAN, SAY, A FULLY VIRTUAL SCHOOL, WHERE KIDS ONLY LOG ON, SAY, FROM HOME AND USE THEIR COMPUTER TO GO TO SCHOOL.

THE RESULTS SEEM TO BE BETTER THERE.

AND THIS CONCEPT OF TEACHING INDIVIDUAL LESSONS -- IT'S NOT NEW.

IT'S BEEN AROUND EVEN BEFORE COMPUTERS.

COMPUTERS MAKE IT POSSIBLE BECAUSE THEY CREATE AN EFFICIENCY.

IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT FOR A TEACHER TO WRITE INDIVIDUAL LESSON PLANS FOR EVERY SINGLE STUDENT EVERY NIGHT.

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

NICHOLE DOBO, EDUCATION REPORTER AT THANKS SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.