After reading the @ChristensenInst report, “Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An introduction of the theory of hybrids”, I felt a need to ask the next question, are charter schools disruptive? Are they more likely to promote the eLearning disruptive innovation or are they creating and implementing sustaining innovations? One is a hybrid, a temporary solution. One is revolutionary.
So, we looked back into our 2013 California eLearning Census data to find out if charter schools are more disruptive than traditional school districts. The answer is not what you may think.
First, we eliminated all elementary (K-8) institutions. Our data, and the Christensen/Horn/Staker report shows that online and blended learning is primarily occurring in secondary schools. Check out our disaggregated blended learning models here to see how differently elementary and secondary schools are approaching blended learning.
Of the 55 direct-funded charters that remained, 16 are full-time virtual schools, the majority which are operated by K12, Inc. 37 secondary (k-12 or 9-12) charter schools are blending their learning. There were 136 K-12 or 9-12 school districts in our sample. 33 operate an on campus virtual school, 18 of which also blend their learning with other students. Below is how charters and districts compare.
The short answer to our question is “no”. Direct-funded charters are not more disruptive when it comes to online and blended learning. Unified and high school districts are actually implementing more disruptive technologies than charter schools. Of the four blended models, Rotation is a sustaining innovation that is implemented in traditional classrooms. While Rotation grew in this year’s eLearning census, traditional school districts seem to be more disruptive than their direct-funded charter competition.
Enriched Virtual: 37% to 35%
Flex: 28% to 27%
A La Carte (formerly Self-Blend) 50% to 43%
Rotation: 38% to 38%