by Krista Sobol
The picture of children sitting in front of computers that track their every thought has many parents alarmed. In the League, local groups study an issue and bring it to the state convention for consideration. Blended learning may be on the way to convention! However, the League has no position on blended learning.
Space Coast League Education Committee Concerned About Blended Learning
In January of this year, the Space Coast League of Woman Voter’s education committee met to plan out our program of work for 2017. As usual, we considered the state league’s three main areas of concern—school choice, school vouchers and common core testing—so we could align our activities with the state league’s priorities. While researching the state’s positions, I was surprised to see no mention of “blended learning” which is poised to forever transform the way the world learns, so I asked that it be included in our program of work. For the last three years, I have been describing to our committee how online learning has “rocked” my world and the worlds of countless other mothers. Online learning in Florida’s public schools has been disrupting our traditional notions of education—changing where, when, what and how our children learn. National thought leaders are calling the technological forces causing change in education as significant as “global warming,” while warning that education is approaching a tipping point. But why is there no discussion or debate about this issue within the State League of Woman Voter’s? Learning more about blended learning will be an eye opener for people content with what they have.
After much research, all of the members of our committee agree that a paradigm shift is underway and that it will alter the model of school that we have known since the industrial revolution. We also agree that the nature of the problem requires urgent understanding and adjustment for a generation of children who need schools to better prepare them for a future that requires them to continuously learn new skills. Further, a lack of access to digital media in and outside of the classroom is impacting learning and raises questions of equality and potentially income inequality as learning is increasingly tied to the economy. In spite of all these concerns, and animated debate, our committee felt our capacity to make out of the box changes was limited. We agreed that the best way to bring about transformational change would be to bring this issue to the attention of the state league committee, educating and informing them on how innovations are making it possible to learn in ways never imagined, just 10 years ago; and to ask the League’s leadership to do what has never been done—reframe education policy to lay the framework for innovation. It was that spirit, that motivated this discussion of what blended learning is and how it is revolutionizing education.