Tightening the Link between Classrooms and Blended Learning Labs

This post is the sixth in a seven-post series exploring the practices of leading blended learning practitioners across the country. The blog series comes in conjunction with the release of five detailed case studies on blended learning operators written by FSG with support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. This particular post explains how one charter management organization, Rocketship Education, strengthened the link between traditional classroom learning and online learning, leading to multiple benefits including an enhanced capacity for data-driven instruction.  

At Rocketship Education, we view the key to our blended learning model as tight alignment between classroom instruction and online learning. But we’ve long faced technical hurdles in providing meaningful and actionable data from our learning lab—a space staffed by non-credentialed teachers where students work online and in small group tutoring sessions—to our classroom teachers.

To ensure students have access to the range of individualized and personalized content they need in the learning lab, we utilize multiple online software programs from different content providers. What we’ve lacked historically is an infrastructure that could integrate our programs and rationalize the data they generate.

Building a better infrastructure

Last year, with support from the Gates Foundation, we tackled this problem by developing a technical infrastructure that could integrate our multiple learning lab programs into one system. This effort allowed us to pull specific metrics from individual programs and combine them into universal reports to give our teachers access to integrated and actionable data. It also began to enable “goal directed assignability” in the learning lab, ensuring better alignment of online content with what students were learning in the classroom.

The build-out of the technical infrastructure has been truly exciting. It has allowed us to more tightly integrate our classrooms and our learning lab with a more truly blended, two-way learning model in which timely data inform classroom instruction while classroom instruction directly influences online content. This year, we're further enhancing our technical infrastructure, and through our partnership with a company called Junyo, we'll provide our teachers with even more advanced analytics and more granular “goal-directed assignability” to more tightly align online content with students’ classroom work.

Testing our hypothesis

Perhaps even more exciting, however, is the fact that the work we've done on the build-out has allowed us to begin testing the long-standing hypothesis that underpins our all our work:

If the online content our students interact with in our learning labs is closely aligned with classroom instruction, students will achieve greater and more rapid mastery of skills.

Click to read the rest of this post on the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation website.

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