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Blended Learning Initiative (BLI)
COVID-19 has caused many schools in Colorado to completely shift their instructional models from traditional in-person to remote learning instruction and other types of hybrid models. This shift has upended what districts thought of as “normal” instruction for a large number of students. Rather than going back to business as usual, it is an important moment to step back and reassess what we know, or thought we knew, about “what works” in terms of instruction, seat time/funding requirements and—fundamentally—achieving strong student outcomes. Such a reassessment requires courage, creativity, and intention to look hard at what we’ve learned, how students have been impacted, how education has evolved, and where we go from here. We believe this is an important collective conversation across schools, districts, and the state. As such, CDE started this collective conversation through what we are calling the Blended Learning Initiative (BLI).
Through the two-year BLI during the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years, CDE will conduct research and facilitate activities to understand more about online and blended learning models that are being used by brick-and-mortar districts and schools both within Colorado and nationwide. The BLI includes Colorado districts and schools that are implementing learning models that fall outside of the updated posted guidance related to Blended Learning and Supplemental Online Courses. Those districts and schools are eligible for a two-year formal variance waiver for years 2021-2022 and/or 2022-2023. Throughout the two-year BLI, CDE will engage district and school leaders, educators, and families including students to provide feedback about online and blended learning. In addition, the BLI welcomes representatives and stakeholders from the online school and program community in order to facilitate robust policy and best practices conversations.
BLI Stakeholder Engagement for 2022-2023
In partnership with the School Finance and Operations Unit and the Schools of Choice Unit, Keystone Policy Center conducted stakeholder engagement outreach activities to educators and families to share perspectives on online and blended learning in Colorado. The goal of this 2022-2023 listening tour was to gather understanding of different forms of instruction as well as insights into what works well, what are the challenges, and what are the opportunities in different forms of instructional delivery.
BLI Stakeholder Engagement Survey
- In August 2022-October 2022, the CDE Blended and Online Learning Summer 2022 Survey launched for Colorado educators, parents/guardians, and students to complete.
BLI Stakeholder Engagement Focus Groups
In October 2022-November 2022, Keystone facilitated focus groups informed in part by the survey results with Colorado superintendents, educators, parents/guardians, and students as well as the Commissioner's Teacher Cabinet.
Keystone Policy Center provided a summary of their BLI Stakeholder Engagement Report with data and feedback gathered from these BLI Stakeholder Engagement activities during the December 16, 2022 BLI Reconvening Meeting as well as a PDF copy of Keystone's report for CDE. Any questions about the BLI Stakeholder Engagement listening tour activities or report findings can be directed to Berrick Abramson (email@example.com). The meeting and report materials are below.
BLI Convening Meetings for 2021-2022
In collaboration with CDE School Finance and Operations Unit, the Office of Online and Blended Learning within the CDE Schools of Choice Unit facilitated initial stakeholder engagement with education leaders and other Colorado education stakeholders. The goal of these 2021-2022 convenings was to begin the BLI by inviting statewide district and school leaders to discuss research and best practices for online and blended learning. The agenda and presentation meeting materials for each BLI Convenings are below.
Convening 1: November 30, 2021
Convening 2: January 28, 2022
Convening 3: February 25, 2022
Convening 4: March 24, 2022
Blended Learning and Supplemental Online Course Variance Waiver
For the second year in a row, the Colorado Department of Education will be providing districts and schools the opportunity to request a variance waiver to the posted guidance regarding Blended Learning Courses and Supplemental Online Courses as outlined in the 2021 Student October Count Audit Resource Guide. These sections of the Guide will remain the same for the 2022-2023 school year within the 2022 Student October Count Audit Resource Guide.
Participating districts and schools utilizing the variance waiver should contact CDE through the BLI email listed below with questions regarding this process and required deadlines for submitting documentation. Districts and schools should reference the Blended Learning and Supplemental Online Course Variance Waiver Process and training resources below regarding the formal variance waiver process that takes place from October through December:
Mallorie Klemm, Blended Learning Education Sr. Consultant