Blended Learning: What Would Districts and Charters Do Differently?

One of the more interesting questions we asked in the Ohio Blended Learning Survey was what districts would do differently if they could start over. Similar to the results we’ve seen with the California eLearning Census, district and charter replies fell into three categories: we wouldn’t do anything differently, we wish we’d provided more or better professional development to our teachers, and we wish we had planned more thoroughly.

Of those districts and charters that were pleased with their progress, several districts mentioned that they had started out small, one praised a consortium for their success, and another felt they had designed and developed a plan based on research and best practices.

Many districts and charters recognized they should have better prepared teachers before implementing their programs. Several districts would spend more time providing teachers professional development prior to implementing blended programs and some recognized the value of continuing teacher training throughout the school year and during the summer.

The predominant theme, though, referenced a desire to have planned more thoroughly. Overall, the majority of districts recognized that they should have slowed down and that they wished they had included more stakeholders in their planning, particularly teachers from more subjects and grade levels, site administrators, and community members. Given that blended learning focuses on shifts in the teacher-student relationship, districts wished they had fostered teacher leadership in blended learning, and focused on classroom culture shifts. Participants also wished they had seen all the moving parts in advance, including infrastructure needs, content selection, teacher preparation, and funding.

Initial Data from Ohio’s Blended Learning Survey

How ingrained is blended learning in Ohio’s school districts and charter schools?

According initial data from the Ohio Blended Learning Survey, sponsored by the Ohio Blended Learning Network and The Learning Accelerator, 60% of Ohio’s districts and charters utilize some sort of blended learning in their classrooms. Of those districts and charters not currently blending, 33% are in the planning stages.

Whether or not students are participating in a blended classroom depends on both grade level and school type. To date, 70% of traditional school districts report their students are blending compared to 39% of charter schools. As we seen in other states, blended classrooms are more prevalent in unified and high school districts and charters when compared to elementary districts. While only 13% of elementary districts and charters report their students are participating in blended learning, 73% of K-12 and 9-12 districts are participating.

Blended Learning by Grade Level

by Grade Level

Half way through the survey period, the median number of blended students is100.

Districts Planning to Blend

If districts and charters answered that they were not participating in blended learning, we asked if they were currently discussing or planning to implement it in the future. Overall, 33% shared that they were in the planning stages. However, K-12 and 9-12 districts and charters are more engaged in investigating blended learning than elementary districts and charters. Just 19% of K-8 districts and charters that are not blending, say they are planning to implement it, while 44% of the unified and high school districts and charters are planning to implement blended learning. This trend is similar to data we’re seeing in a similar census we’re conducting in California.

Districts and Charters Planning to Blend


The Ohio Blended Learning Survey is being conducted by the Clayton Christensen Institute on behalf of the Ohio Blended Learning Network and The Learning Accelerator. Beginning February 3rd, district superintendents and charter school directors were contacted by U.S. mail with weekly emails reminding them to participate. Current results represent 12% of Ohio’s schools. The Ohio Blended Learning Survey closes March 20th.

Three Great Workshops Scheduled

We’ve scheduled three great workshops, each only $25 to attend. Come Thursday afternoon for Rob Darrow’s Planning, Implementing, and Sustaining a Blended Learning Program or Burt Lo’s Using iBooks Author to Create Interactive Resources. Saturday morning, before the closing keynote, blended learning expert, Catlin Tucker presents Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with Blended Learning. Again, each of these workshops are just $25 to attend.

Thursday Afternoon: 1PM – 4PM

Planning, Implementing and Sustaining a Blended Learning Program
Rob Darrow

This workshop will benefit teacher and administrative educational leaders. Learn about tools, metrics and measures that will help you build, improve or extend a successful and student-centric blended learning program. This session focuses on best practices of planning and implementing a blended learning program and based on iNACOL’s roadmap for blended learning implementation which includes the six key elements of leadership, professional development, teachers, policy, technology, content. Learn how these can be applied in your school or district.

Using iBooks Author to Create Interactive Resources
Burt Lo

iBooks author can be used by administrators, teachers and students to create dynamic and interactive resources for school or classroom management and for student learning.  Participants must have a Mac device with iBooks author installed.


Saturday Morning: 8:15AM – 11:15AM

Creatively Teach the Common Core Literacy Standards with Blended Learning
Catlin Tucker

Play with technology and explore new ways to engage students in active learning to meet the Common Core. This session will focus o n concrete strategies and tools you can use to teach reading, vocabulary, research and writing. Use technology to scaffold work, foster collaboration and drive higher-order thinking. Explore how you can blend technology and tradition to create a student-centered classroom that encourages students to be active participants in the learning process. Walk away with lesson ideas and fun tech tools you can use with students today!

Early Bird Symposium registration is now open until October 10th. Just $179, registration includes Friday and Saturday sessions, a keynote/lunch on Friday and a closing keynote on Saturday. Groups of two or more who are from the same school, district, or organization may register for $165. Hilton rooms for the symposium are just $139 per night.

The 3nd annual eLearning Strategies Symposium is being held on December 12-13, 2014 at the San Mateo Marriott, a free shuttle ride away from SFO, with workshops scheduled on December 11th and 13th. More information can be found at

Two Great Keynotes Highlight ESS 2014

Amy Burvall

We’re excited that YouTube sensation Amy Burvall will keynote Friday, December 12th at the eLearning Strategies Symposium this year. A Humanities teacher for more than 20 years, Amy is currently teaching Theory of Knowledge at Le Jardin Academy International Baccalaureate (IB) “world school” in Kailua, Hawaii. Her work in the History for Music Lovers YouTube channel (aka “Historyteachers”), which features history-based parody music videos with more than 10 million views, has appeared in Wired magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Honolulu Magazine, CBC, NPR, and international blogs and media.

Ramsey Musallam

Ramsey Musallam, flipped learning guru provides our closing keynote on Saturday, December 13th. Ramsey, a TED Talk alumnus, is a secondary science instructor at Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown San Francisco and serves as an adjunct professor of education at the University of San Francisco and Touro University. He is the host of the Infinite Thinking Machine, an Internet TV show dedicated to sharing innovative ideas for teachers and students. Ramsey’s TED Talk “3 Rules to Spark Learning” is widely popular with classroom teachers and was the lead talk on TED’s first-ever PBS TV premiere, “TED Talks Education.

Pre-registration for the eLearning Strategies Symposium is now open until October 3rd.   Individual pre-registration is currently $179 and groups of two or more may register for $165 each. Directions for paying by purchase orders are below . Registration rates increase on October 4th to $199 for individuals and $175 for teams.

Nominate a Great Online/Blended Teacher or eLearning Advocate

Do you know or work with a great online or blended teacher at your school? Do you work with an eLearning leader, someone who has advocated for and led online and blended initiatives?

The eLearning Strategies Symposium is now accepting nominations for two eLearning awards, which will be presented on December 12th during the ESS keynote address.  The CUE and Stanislaus COE-sponsored eLearning Strategies Symposium is an annual California conference for K-12 educators, administrators, and advocates focused on online and blended learning.

Online Teacher of the Year

The Online Teacher of the Year Award recognizes an online teacher who has made a noteworthy contribution to eLearning in an online or blended setting. Supporting and engaging all students online is the key element in this award. Nominees must be currently teaching online with K-12 students. Nominations may be submitted by the individual nominee or by another person who is able to support the nomination through personal involvement with the nominee.

eLearning Advocate

The eLearning Advocate Award is presented to an individual or organization that has contributed significantly to promoting, advocating, or implementing eLearning at their school, district, county or state. It may include organizations, members of the state and/or federal legislature or their staffs, educators, or individuals who have made sustained and/or extraordinary efforts in promoting eLearning to advance student achievement.

Nominations are now open until September 15th. For more information, visit our ESS Awards page.

Early-bird registration for the Symposium is just $165 for groups of two or more or $179 for individuals. The symposium includes two keynote addresses and more than 60 concurrent sessions, all focused on online or blended learning. Visit our ESS registration page for more information.

Ramsey Musallam, a TED Talk alumnus and blended learning pioneer, will provide our closing keynote on Saturday and Amy Burvall, a YouTube sensation on the History for Music Lovers channel, is our opening keynote on Friday. We’ve also begun posing some of our accepted sessions on the main ESS page.

RIP CLRN: 1979 – June 30, 2014

The California Learning Resource Network passed away at 11:59PM June 30th due to complications caused by the Local Control Funding Formula. CLRN is survived by two sister projects, TechSETS and TICAL, by two offspring, the eLearning Strategies Symposium and the California eLearning Census and by several dedicated employees.

CLRN began as a CUE public domain software project, located at the San Mateo County Office of Education, where its mother, Ann Lathrop, worked as a library consultant. Given the name SOFTSWAP in 1980, the project was a staple at CUE conferences and in the CUE Newsletter. In 1982, when Governor Brown established the Teacher Education and Computer Centers (TECC), SOFTWAP was renamed the California Software Clearinghouse, with Ann continuing to shepherd reviews. When the Software Clearinghouse was asked to evaluate instructional video, Harry Bakker, later the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, stepped forward to create the California Instructional Video Clearinghouse. By 1987, both Clearinghouses were reviewing resources from six subject areas and were publishing their reviews in Technology in the Curriculum (TIC) guides.

In 1989, Ann Lathrop moved to CSU Long Beach and took the Software Clearinghouse with her. At this time, work began to broadcast evaluations online.  Then, in 1995, both Clearinghouses combined to form the California Instructional Technology Clearinghouse. John Vaille, former CUE Executive Director, became the Clearinghouse’s first director. Brian Bridges was hired a year later.

When the content standards movement began in the late 1990s, new legislation to formalize the California Technology Assistance Project and several Statewide Educational Technology Services created an RFP for an electronic learning resource project. In 1999, the Clearinghouse became the California Learning Resource Network, and Brian moved to work with CTAP Region 6.  Several CLRN directors followed, but he returned as CLRN’s director in 2007.

CLRN will best be remembered for its impact on course quality, its development of national standards for quality online courses, the increasingly popular eLearning Strategies Symposium, and the California eLearning Census. While initially only 25% of online courses qualified to be CLRN Certified, publishers utilized reviewer comments to supplement content and add more interactive components. By CLRN’s passing, 70% of all courses earned certification, providing more high-quality teaching and learning experiences for California’s educators and students.

CRLN’s body will lie at rest at for several years, hosting nearly 700 online course reviews, 3000+ electronic learning resource reviews, and 6000+ reviews of open educational resources. Remembrances should be sent to Governor Brown and the California legislature to remind them of the damage that the Local Control Funding Formula has created.

Amy Burvall to Keynote 2014 eLearning Strategies Symposium

Costa Mesa, Calif., June 16, 2014 — Today, CUE and the Stanislaus County Office of Education announced that Amy Burvall will provide the opening keynote for the third annual eLearning Strategies Symposium, a conference dedicated to highlighting and exploring effective strategies for online and blended education.

A Humanities teacher for more than 20 years, Amy is currently teaching Theory of Knowledge at Le Jardin Academy International Baccalaureate (IB) “world school” in Kailua, Hawaii. Her work in the History for Music Lovers YouTube channel (aka “Historyteachers”), which features history-based parody music videos with more than 10 million views, has appeared in Wired magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Honolulu Magazine, CBC, NPR, and international blogs and media. She was privileged to present at TEDxHonolulu 2011 and served as co-curator for TEDxHonoluluED 2013.

In her keynote, “The Cafe, the Studio and the Stage: Re-Imagining Spaces for Blended and Online Learning”, Amy will re-imagine the environments in which our students learn, whether traditional, blended, or completely online. She will answer such questions as what are the essential elements of these “spaces” and what tools are useful in managing student learning, production, and amplification of student work.

“We are thrilled that Amy Burvall will be our kick-off keynote speaker at eSS,” said CUE’s Executive Director, Mike Lawrence. “Her innovative approaches to education and her willingness to explore all avenues of content delivery and creation will be the perfect way to start the symposium.”

Early Bird Symposium registration is now open until October 10th. Just $179, registration includes Friday and Saturday sessions and a keynote/lunch on Friday and a closing keynote on Saturday. Groups of two or more who are from the same school, district, or organization may register for $165. San Mateo Marriott rooms for the symposium are just $139 per night.

For more information, visit the eLearning Strategies Symposium website,


Common Core & eLearning

Given that blended learning skyrocketed 49% last year, we’re pleased to include a Common Core strand at this year’s eLearning Strategies Symposium. Join us in December for these and other great sessions about eLearning’s pedagogy, content, big picture, capacity building, and gear.

Blended and Online Common Core: Creating Dynamic Thinkers in All Subject Areas
Courtney Calfee

Blended and Online Common Core: Creating Dynamic Thinkers in All Subject Areas is an interactive training that will equip educators with an understanding of their role in addressing the instructional shifts required by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Applying CCSS across all subject areas helps transform students who are accustomed to thinking about text-explicit concepts into dynamic thinkers able to draw inferences and reach evidence-based conclusions no matter what course they are in. Learn ways that higher-order questioning can be infused into Live Lessons/Collaborations and be the beginning of an exciting change in learning outcomes.

Technology in the Common Core Age
Dennis Large

Common Core and the Smarter Balanced assessments are changing our classrooms.  K-12 online and blended learning environments are poised to lead the change. This session examines the specific role of technology in this transformation – including research and best practices. We will examine some of the ideas and the applications gaining traction as teachers make the connections between ed tech and the Common Core.

The Core of the Common Core
Kyle Brumbaugh

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are now a part of all classrooms, but how can you quickly and easily create and develop lessons that will allow you to meet multiple CCSS and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?  This session will provide you with strategies on how to develop tool sets, workflows and power lessons that will allow you to supercharge the teaching and learning in your classroom.  This session will also allow you to get the students to teach each other and in turn deepen their own learning.

Authoring and Adapting Online Content with CK12 – the Leading OER Platform
Stephen Politzer

CK-12 is the leading Open Educational Resource (OER) for quality, free common core aligned online courses and curriculum concepts. Find a complete course or curriculum concept and use it directly out of the box… or copy it, edit and adapt it, and make it your own by adding your words, links, and resources. In this session, you’ll get an overview of the CK-12 OER system, learn how to search for and find courses and concepts, copy and edit courses and concepts, and even author and publish your own courses and concepts. Quality AND free… CK-12!

Discussion Boards: Purpose and Power
David Dillon

Participants will explore the purpose and power of Discussion Boards.  Discussion Boards can be used for the following three purposes: 1) deepening a student’s knowledge, 2) initiating peer tutoring, and 3) demonstrating mastery of material.  Discussion boards are powerful tools for meeting many ELA Common Core Anchor Standards.  In this workshop participants will take an in-depth look at how to use Discussion Boards effectively.  Key concepts that will be looked at include developing essential questions, online deliberation, and argumentation.  Be prepared to discuss these concepts.

The eLearning Strategies Symposium returns December 12th and 13th, 2014 and focuses on K12 educators, administrators, policymakers, industry, and advocates. The San Mateo Mariott will host the two-day event. Pre-registration for the eLearning Strategies Symposium is now open until October 3rd.   Individual pre-registration is currently $179 and groups of two or more may register for $165 each.

The San Mateo Marriott, a short, free shuttle ride from San Francisco International Airport, is centrally located by Highways 92 and 101 on the San Francisco Peninsula. Single and double rooms, which are $139 per night, include free wi-fi and self-parking. Room reservations must be made by Friday, November 25, 2014 to ensure the ESS group rate.  Secure your room through the eSS hotel reservation page,