Bullis School, in its vision to prepare its students with radically different learning and living skills necessary for the 21st century, has implemented a blended learning initiative. Blended learning, which combines the delivery of curriculum in an online environment with other modes of instructional delivery, is a proven successful medium for teaching and learning and, at the upper school level, is the fastest-growing segment in the educational arena.1 The blended approach with accessibility and flexibility of structured online curriculum combined with the “human touch” of interaction with the teacher in a face-to-face setting is an ideal paradigm for teaching and learning.
Bullis offers blended learning modules and/or courses in the Middle School and the Upper School. The modules and/or courses have been developed by the teaching staff and are housed in and taught through its web-based learning management platform called Haiku Learning Systems. The complete module and/or course descriptions are included in the listings for each division.
In the Upper School, the faculty authors of the courses have developed high-quality online courses that will be taught in a blended online structure. Typically, each class will meet with the teacher (face-to-face) in the traditional classroom setting two to three days per week. For the remaining two to three days per week, students will manage their use of time in virtual sessions; after signing in with a proctor they can do online work for their class, work on other course work, or even do off-campus work. While the workload for each blended online course is in alignment with the typical schedule rotation of the traditional class, the online work settings during the schedule rotation will provide flexibility for students to manage their time.
Class participation in the online component will require interactivity through asynchronous discussions, collaborative work using technology-rich resources, and possibly scheduled synchronous sessions via web conferencing, all with regularly scheduled due dates and deadlines. All Bullis teachers developing and teaching blended online courses have prepared their courses with formal teacher professional development in this new teaching/learning delivery style. The courses are fully developed with clearly defined goals, objectives, activities, and student outcomes that meet core academic standards.
The Middle School is using a module approach to incorporating blending learning in the classroom. This approach will complement the traditional face-to-face instruction students receive on a daily basis. A typical module will last up to two weeks and will be accessed through the Haiku Learning System. They are designed by Middle School faculty and encourage differentiated instruction by allowing students to work at their own pace. Modules are crafted to introduce students to a specific unit of study within a broader topic. For example, a social studies teacher may develop a political convention module to support a unit on democracy. Consistent with the Upper School model, they are developed to meet the Bullis core academic standards.
1from The Rise of K-12 Blending Learning, by Innosight Institute, Inc. 2011