Blended Learning in Rural Colorado: Status and Strategies for Expansion

“Blended learning can – and in some places already is – replacing seat time with competency-based learning, extending learning beyond the school building and the school day, allowing students to take charge of their education, and demonstrating improved student outcomes.” – Blended Learning in Rural Colorado 

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. 

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