Blended Learning in Context: How District, CMO, and School Environments Enable and Constrain Blended Learning Implementation
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This dissertation is a comparative case study on the implementation of “blended learning,” or the combined use of virtual and face-to-face learning, in three schools. The research links literature on blended learning practices to that on organizational learning and innovation in education to examine how context impacts blended learning implementation at two levels: the school level and the district or CMO level. At the school level, I explore how various aspects of school culture, leadership, and resource allocation decisions influence how educators’ use blended learning to personalize instruction. At the district or CMO level, I consider how various forms of support and instructional and staffing autonomy impact school environments, and subsequently, impact personalized instruction through blended learning. I find that school communities using blended learning to personalize education hold themselves internally accountable for improvement using technology and exhibit strong social contracts between both teachers and administrators, and students and adults. In these cases, internal accountability for personalized blended learning use is enabled by a set of school-level practices, including: explicitly linking innovation and blended learning to the school’s mission, modeling and showcasing innovation and technology use, and emphasizing public practice, collaboration, and teacher voice to support innovation. I also find factors that span school and district or CMO-level practices to impact the strength of adult social contracts. These factors include: the quality of professional learning systems tied to blended learning use, amount and allocation of staff time, teacher choice and staffing to match school mission, availability of blended learning tools and specialized knowledge, external structures to support teacher innovation, available funding, and the freedom to quickly shift resource allocations. I similarly find student-adult relationships to be influenced by factors spanning school and district or CMO-level practices, including: explicit instruction on mindset and non-cognitive skills, school choice for teachers and students, and a history of school success. These findings contribute to theory on the implementation of innovative methods, such as blended learning, in schools and raise important questions for future research.
- Education - Seattle