AUSTIN, TX (August 6, 2015) – Raise Your Hand Texas recently announced 75 semifinalist public schools and district applicants for its $2.5 million Raising Blended Learners grant initiative. Selected teams will attend two-day, expense-paid blended learning workshops in September and October 2015. The workshops will be led by Heather Staker, author of “Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools”, founder and president of Ready to Blend, and adjunct fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank and pioneer in blended learning.
Ten finalists chosen in January 2016 will receive assistance in refining their plans. Five winning teams, announced in April 2016, will receive up to $500,000 and technical support in implementing their programs over three years. Raise Your Hand plans to coordinate support to encourage the other applicants to refine and implement their plans and intends evaluation and public reporting of grantee implementation to drive broader statewide adoption of blended learning approaches.
As defined by the Christensen Institute, blended learning is a blend of online learning and brick-and-mortar schooling that takes place when students learn at least in part online, with some student control over the time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning. This is a departure from the broader trend of simply equipping classrooms with devices and software and different from full-time virtual education, which does not include peer engagement and in-person student-teacher interactions.
“Raising Blended Learners is designed to test and showcase blended learning strategies that personalize instruction with the goal of improving student achievement, particularly among schools and districts with persistent achievement gaps,” said Dr. David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas. “Expecting one teacher to tailor lessons to each child in a classroom of 20 to 35 students using 20th century classroom models is not only ineffective, but nearly impossible. Blended learning represents the engine to power student-centered, competency-based learning at scale.”
Blended learning also is gaining momentum in the Texas policy realm.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott included blended learning as key elements of the innovation and professional development planks of his “Educating Texans Plan: High-Quality Digital Learning” proposal during his campaign for governor and touted the potential of targeted digital approaches to deliver individualized instruction. His proposal includes, “Digital learning will propel a transition toward an education system based on personalized education plans that focus on the individual needs of each student rather than seat-time requirements.”
Legislation introduced during the 84th Legislative Session proposed grant programs to assist school districts and campuses in developing and implementing blended learning initiatives for students and staff. The Raising Blended Learners grant will benefit students on some of the campuses those bills would have covered and could inform future policies related to blended learning.
Grant semifinalist workshops are scheduled in Fort Worth September 22-23, San Antonio September 29-30, San Antonio October 1-2, and South Padre Island October 6-7.
To learn more about the grant, eligibility requirements for applicants, and the initial application process, download the Raising Blended Learners grant summary. To see the list of semifinalists, visit https://www.raiseyourhandtexas.org/foundation/blended/.
Petri Darby, VP of Marketing
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About Raise Your Hand Texas
Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-profit, non-partisan organization advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for our state’s 5 million+ students. We invest in best-in-class programs to develop an innovative new breed of leaders for Texas public schools, and lead research-driven public policy advocacy that elevates the quality of Texas public education, ensuring that our economy remains strong and Texas’ future remains bright. Visit RaiseYourHandTexas.org to learn more.