The Learning Accelerator Blog/What We’re Learning About Virtual Learning

TLA updates virtual & hybrid learning

What We’re Learning About Virtual Learning

by Beth Rabbitt on September 7 2022

In August 2021, our team published Launching Forward, the culmination of our six-monthlong Hop, Skip, Leapfrog project. Hop, Skip, Leapfrog aimed to identify, codify, and make sense of new school system strategies and capabilities that emerged during the pandemic as well as understand how these shifts could benefit learners and schools in the future. Drawing on the expertise and experiences of over 30 districts, charter management organizations, and field leaders, we explored how new strengths built through the crisis might accelerate current efforts and offered six “launch points” for sustained, equity-oriented progress into the future.

These six launch points have served as an organizing agenda for our work over the last year, and we’re tackling topics ranging from measuring and responding to unfinished learning, to selecting, implementing, and evaluating equitable edtech materials, to holistically supporting wellbeing and retention, to capturing and offering concrete teaching and learning strategies that help to personalize and accelerate learning. Across all of them, our overarching goal is to help educators — from the classroom to the boardroom — advance towards helping every student meet their full and unique potential.

In this blog series, I want to share lessons we’re learning from one specific launch point, which is how leaders might leverage emergent virtual learning capabilities and approaches to enable new experiences and outcomes. We saw that making good on this opportunity would require additional collective work: K-12 leaders would need a better understanding of these new models, including the existing knowledge base for how to drive quality as well as practices and examples to build from. Systems would need to explore and demonstrate pathways to achieve greater effectiveness and equity in their own contexts.

Given this, TLA has been working over the last year to explore the following question: How can K-12 leaders leverage virtual learning (including distance, hybrid, and in-person models) to support greater opportunity and equity for K-12 students?

Through a variety of knowledge-generating projects with partners across the nation, we’ve been working to better understand the landscape of practices, policies, providers, and processes enabling school and system change. We’ve also been trying to ensure education decision-makers have open access to the information, tools, and networks they need to move forward locally. Specifically, our team has:

Across all of this work, we've been building knowledge to make this launch point a reality for school leaders. We're excited to share with you some early critical learnings from our efforts and engagements. Over the next few posts, I will explore some early and emerging takeaways on the following topics:

  1. Defining virtual learning (and getting specific on how it relates to other terms)

  2. Going beyond “as good as” to demand more for learners through virtual and hybrid learning efforts

  3. Understanding the case for systems, moving beyond the “past” of virtual learning to understand its relationship and criticality to our future

  4. Acknowledging “access” is useless, and getting serious about using what we know to increase quality

  5. Exploring levers state and local policymakers can push to increase quality access and opportunities for learners

We’ll be sharing these posts over the next few weeks. Our hope in sharing some of these early lessons is that, in addition to being helpful to those pursuing virtual learning in the sector, we’ll provoke more opportunities for feedback and collaboration.

Have a learning or idea about virtual learning you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! @LearningAccel

Explore the series and stay tuned in the coming weeks as more are added:

About the Author

Beth Rabbitt is CEO of The Learning Accelerator and a nationally recognized expert in education innovation and blended and personalized learning.