Staying Connected Through Blended Learning

Florida Virtual School supports Blended Learning Community (BLC) settings in schools across the state of Florida and beyond. In these blended environments, students learn through a combination of online and face-to-face learning. Over the past two years, the FLVS Analysis, Assessment, and Accountability Research Team has partnered with the University of Central Florida to study the unique environment that Blended Learning Communities offer FLVS students, teachers, and Florida schools.

Blended Learning Communities Support School Instruction

These hybrid learning environments provide students:

  • Online Florida Virtual School courses
  • Online support from their FLVS teacher
  • Daily face-to-face support from an in-school facilitator
  • Monthly face-to-face support from their FLVS teacher

FLVS teachers who have been assigned BLC-based courses often refer to themselves as “lab teachers” because this role differs from their work with students who take Florida Virtual School courses entirely online.

School districts offer FLVS courses in their BLCs during the regular school day by providing a lab environment and class period in which students can work, whereas FLVS Flex courses follow a flexible schedule.

Through our studies of student satisfaction alongside student and teacher experiences with BLCs, the research team learned much about the access, support, and flexibility BLC courses offer Florida students and schools. From that point, the team sought to include FLVS teacher perspectives to provide a complete picture of these blended learning experiences.

In a final phase of the BLC research, the FLVS research team interviewed five FLVS lab teachers who serve the six BLCs we studied. We spoke with brand new FLVS teachers and teachers who have been with us for up to 17 years so that we might learn from a broad range of their experiences. The following section presents the insights these inspiring teachers shared.

A Unique Teaching & Learning Experience

The student is the center of every decision our teachers make. One of the unique benefits of FLVS is the personal relationships that teachers develop with each of their students and families through phone, text, and email conversations.

Teaching an FLVS BLC lab course combines the flexibility of online teaching with students and teachers experiencing face-to-face interactions at least monthly. Teachers report that seeing students periodically in addition to their virtual conversations helps them to truly know students well and cater to their individual learning needs.

FLVS BLC teachers shared that an important consideration regarding BLC courses is that they differ from their Flex counterparts in several ways: Teacher and school expectations, time management, availability, communication, and environmental factors impact student, family, and school-of-record experiences due to structured time within a school day and calendar.

FLVS BLC teachers made clear their strong beliefs that all students can be successful in FLVS courses and that, although content and resources change, FLVS teachers can provide the best service possible to address individual students through various formats that suit individual needs!

April FleetwoodApril Fleetwood, Director of Accountability, Research, and Measurement, manages university and internal research opportunities at FLVS that focus on best practices and student achievement in online learning for grades K-12. She started her career teaching high school English after graduating from the University of Florida with her Master of Education in 2007. She joined FLVS and received her Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida in 2017.

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