Blended Learning in KWCPS

Choosing the Right Ingredients

What’s the Ideal Ratio of Computer Time in Blended Learning Classes?

“More and more people seem to agree that digital learning in K-12 classrooms works best when it is used with the oversight of a teacher,” say Paul Peterson (Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) and Michael Horn (Clayton Christensen Institute) in this article in Education Next. “A student can learn effectively via computer if an educator is around to assist and supplement, and teachers are realizing the power computers – properly used – have to enhance their craft… [freeing them] to do what only humans can do well – provide empathy, understanding, and mentorship.”

But what is the right amount of computer time? Peterson and Horn decided to crowdsource the question. They asked a representative sample of the U.S. public the following question, allowing responses from zero to 100 percent: About what share of instructional time in high school do you think students should spend receiving instruction independently through or on a computer? The median response – the midpoint between the highest and lowest answers – was 30 percent.

“But is crowdsourcing a question like this a good idea?” ask Peterson and Horn. “Is the public really that smart?” To check this out, they asked the same question to a cross-section of experts in blended learning. Some of them were critical of the question, but when they answered, the consensus was about 40 percent of instructional time. Peterson and Horn then asked a representative group of teachers, and their median response was 20 percent. So the public “crowd” was exactly half-way between the blended-learning experts (who would tend to be more favorable to computer time) and teachers (who would be inclined toward more teacher time). Remarkable!

The authors close with a caveat: of course the amount of computer time varies with individual students and the subject matter.


Marshall Memo 629

“The Ideal Blended-Learning Combination” by Paul Peterson and Michael Horn in Education Next, Spring 2016 (Vol. 16, #2, p. 94-95),

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