Across the country millions of students are accessing online and blended courses while attending a physical school, an estimated 50% of districts are offering some online or blended learning options, and more than 250,000 students attend fully online schools. These opportunities, however, are not equally available to all students. In Colorado, educational options that blend online and face-to-face instruction—at the course, unit, or school level—are more widespread in urban and suburban areas along the Front Range than in rural districts on the plains and along the western slope.
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) sought to better understand blended learning in rural areas of Colorado, why fewer opportunities exist in rural areas than in urban and suburban areas, and what changes could help create opportunities for all Colorado students. Research methods included a literature review, survey of rural districts, and phone interviews with a subset of survey respondents.
This study conducted a survey and interviews to find such information about blended learning programs, as well as to explore educators’ views about blended learning. Sixty-six people from 54 different entities responded to the survey. Of these, 84% indicated that students were participating in online or blended learning.
Benefits of online and blended learning:
- Expands course catalog/schedule options
- Credit recovery/dropout recovery
- Schedule flexibility in small school
- Reach at-risk students/different learning environment
- Preparation for future occupations/ 21st century skills
- Identify and support district champions of online and blended learning
- Promote collaboration across districts
- Encourage the first small steps that districts take towards blended learning