Saturday, April 16, 2011

Academic Calendar

Arizona State University announced sometime in January 2011, that they will be offering six learning blocks next Fall. Their academic calendars will allow students to take two sessions that are 7.5 weeks in length, as an alternative to the traditional 15-week semester. The summer schedule will offer students two 6-week sessions as an alternative to the full 8-week session. For a traditional college campus to offer this choice is a big shift, and places ASU among a small percentage of schools offering this type of academic calendar. I am certain there will be continued studies that speak to class length and the regularity in which they meet, but I am not sure that it will matter either way, as students want choice.

So how long will it take a non-traditional academic calendar to reach our K-12 schools? I think that is a difficult question to answer, but again, student choice will eventually demand the option. When we talk about choice, it seems like that has already arrived to an extent, public, charter, online, and now the "blended learning" environment. Of all the above choices, the blended learning environment will alter the traditional bell schedule the most. Blended learning can be defined in a number of ways, but simply put, it combines the mashing of different learning environments, with an online component being a key element. What the online piece will do is allow that portion of learning to be done at home, school, library, or any place with internet access. Kind of makes a traditional bell schedule and academic calendar feel a bit restrictive to the individual. As I mentioned before, there are different blended learning environments starting to show up, Carpe Diem in Yuma AZ, San Francisco Flex Academy, each have their own idea of a blended learning environment, and that is a positive piece that promotes innovation and change. I am not sure just yet what the ultimate blended learning environment would look like, but the days of a one size fits all system is drawing to a close in my opinion and personalizing an educational plan is going to be the norm.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jon. I agree, one size does not fit all, and as blended learning appears throughout the country, so does the innovation and change in education K-12 and undergrad-post graduate.

    There were two things that I noticed today with blended learning: I read an article about successful blended learning schools, and found it fascinating to see High Tech High, a school that is usually associated with PBL, in this article as one of the success stories. I also read a discussion on Linked In - ISTE board, about how many Doctoral programs are blended.

    I just keep hearing more and more about it.

    Thanks for the post!


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