8 Trends, 8 Opportunities, And 8 Concerns About Blended Learning

8 Trends, 8 Opportunities, And 8 Concerns About Blended Learning” by Tom Vander Ark originally appeared on gettingsmart.com 

The directors of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning are an amazing group of system heads, school operators, philanthropists, and advocates. On Sunday we spent an hour discussing trends, opportunities and areas of concern for the rapidly world of online and blended learning. Following is a quick recap:


  1. Student centered personalized learning—the meta trend and opportunity of our time
  2. Common Core: new expectations and new ways of learning
  3. Eruption of innovative learning tools including adaptive learning systems
  4. Blended learning is catching on with more philanthropic support
  5. Financial picture won’t get much better in most states anytime soon
  6. Interest in performance-based funding—and not just for online classes
  7. Competency-based progress and testing out
  8. Self blending off campus


  1. Common Core implementation that leads to deeper learning
  2. Online assessment starting in most states in 2014-15
  3. Competency based systems that make it easier to manage individual progress
  4. Learning environments and adaptive systems that get better as students learn
  5. De-risking the shift to blended learning
  6. Big data: real time dynamic information for teachers and students
  7. Scaled proof points to drive policy change
  8. Public engagement and elevating the debate


  1. Need to provide a better decision support—a change roadmap
  2. Need to build leadership and support capacity rapidly
  3. Tool set is still 2-3 years behind demand
  4. Variation in virtual school results and the disaggregated data to understand what’s working and not
  5. Potential to confuse failure and iterative development (micro innovation)
  6. Need to better understand how systems change
  7. Some schools will use blended learning as cover for more tech
  8. Insufficient and narrowness of efforts to promote equity
I spent an inspiring afternoon with 20 winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenge. They are planning and operating school models that are examples of what is possible. Over the next two weeks, we’ll highlight these models on Getting Smart. Stay tuned for live coverage of the iNACOL conference  at #VSS12.