Blended Learning Lessons from Miami

Last month SRI published lessons learned from the first year of widespread use of Florida Virtual (FLVS) powered learning labs in Miami-Dade schools.  Online learning labs bring the flexibility of online learning to traditional high schools.  In Miami-Dade’s Virtual Learning Lab (VLL) program:

The blending occurs across courses rather than within courses. Instruction for select individual courses is provided entirely online in a school-based computer lab. Students log in to online courses taught by off-site FLVS instructors. Students take one or more of these online courses during regular class periods within the school schedule. Lab monitors, called lab facilitators in Miami-Dade, are present in the labs to support students on site.

This approach has limitations but is an easy and cost effective way to add AP and foreign language courses, and to manage credit recovery.
SRI identified seven lessons from the first year implementation:
1. “Committed leadership and planning are the foundations of a successful online learning lab program.”  That means after a lot of faculty collaboration, there needs to be a lot of communication about the program to students and parents.
2. Do your homework on the total cost.  “Hardware may be significant, but the greatest recurring cost is staffing the lab facilitator positions.”
3. “Online learning labs should be comfortable, quiet, dedicated spaces containing appropriate resources.”
4. Be thoughtful about enrollment and students supports.
5. Lab facilitators coordinate everything—they are key to success.
6. “Comprehensive facilitator orientation is necessary.”
7. “A comprehensive student orientation program is a key.”
Learning labs can extend options and allow students to self blend their learning, but for core math, science and humanities, blending within courses is likely to be more productive for most students.  See How to Blend Math and Deeper Learning: Engaging Students Across the Humanities).
And for even more see:


Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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