This work, however, is hard. Students bring a range of experiences, challenges, and interests to the table. Our current way of doing school - designing for the average - makes it nearly impossible to meet all student needs at once. We face large and significant gaps in student outcomes that correlate with income, race, home-language, gender, and diverse-learner status.
We must bring new resources to bear to support teachers in redesigning the way they work to erase those gaps in achievement and opportunity.
Blended learning (strategically integrating technology into the classroom) is a powerful mechanism for helping teachers achieve this vision. Through blended learning, educators can tailor instruction to individual needs, freeing up time, energy, and new resources to deeply engage students where and when they need it most. By thinking creatively, we can move towards personalized approaches where students progress with mastery of content and skills rather than time in class or the pace of peers.
However, we must approach this work carefully, making sure that resources are equitably applied and that technology serves as a gap-closer rather than a gap-widener. That's why TLA has a specific equity focus across all areas of our work. Specifically, we:
- Seek, above all, high-quality blended educational practice, focusing on the ways technology can be used to push forward powerful instructional approaches like data-use, personalization to differentiate and engage, and mastery-based progression.
- Look for models of practice serving groups of students traditionally underserved, locating examples of blended and personalized learning in schools with high-need and diverse learners.
- Measure the impact of blended learning practice - both in terms of academic and nonacademic outcomes - not just on average, but for specific subgroups of students to make sure that approaches decrease gaps rather than widen them.
- Actively engage educators and leaders of diverse backgrounds, seeking to disseminate to schools and systems not well-represented in typical ed tech and innovation-oriented circles.
- Offer all of our work openly and freely so that educators and schools everywhere, regardless of local resources, can find the tools and resources they need to implement blended learning.
If you have ideas for how TLA can push further in this aspect of our mission, or want to discuss partnership in achieving it, please reach out. We're eager to collaborate.