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Oahu Launching Blended Learning

“Oahu school launches innovative E-learning program”
by Lara Yamada
April 12, 2012

From traditional to 21st-century learning.

At Hale Kula Elementary in Schofield, Ms. Cummings 5th grade media awareness class is learning the basics of what will become a full blown, pilot program next fall.

“I like the idea that our lessons are up there and our students can access them at anytime,” said Cummings.

“I’ve had to learn a lot of stuff I didn’t know,” said teacher Rachel Armstrong.

Rachel Armstrong is one of two teachers leading what will be called “Blended Learning,” where kids come to class two days a week, then work from home three days a week online.

“I think it’s a shift in your mindset about how you think about teaching. It’s not you standing up there doing everything. I think that’s great actually. I think it gives you more time to be with the individual student and what they’re needs are,” said Armstrong.

“It’s fun. Yeah. You get to get out of class though. Yeah that’s fun,” laughs 5th grader Mason Wood.

Wood, like most kids in the media class, loves the idea.

He did his book report online.

His classmates finished a video presentation for Olelo.

“Each time we learn new stuff it kind of gets us more into it,” said 5th grader Koa Perman.

“They’re really engaged in what they’re doing and they’re exploring new things that they like to do while they are learning,” said Cummings.

“I think the kids are the main reason why it will work,” said principal Jan Iwase.

With Hale Kula overflowing with 970 students, resources and funding are a big challenge, so and her staff knew it was time to try something new.

They won a grant through the Department of Defense’s education branch.

They’re using the money to buy technology and test out Blended Learning for next year’s 4th and 5th graders.

“When they talk about education now in the 21st century you talk about not just the three R’s but the 4 Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creation; and that’s what this program is all about,” she said.

“I’m excited! This is something new,” said Cummings.

Expect to see more and more Hawaii schools testing, and implementing e-Learning – and soon.

In the fall of 2012, the Asian Development Bank will be sponsoring another program for a handful of Hawaii schools, with a software program that continually adjusts to the pace of how each student is learning.

Educators say this will free up teachers to focus on advancing students beyond the basics.

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