Blended Learning Models for Outreach
The Outreach school setting is a unique learning environment that a wonderful variety of students choose to a take part in. Due to its uniqueness, flexibility and focus on supporting at-risk student success, Outreach teachers are always looking for new instructional techniques to engage students. Outreach schools already have in place the flexible attendance practices that would allow a variety of different blended learning models to be set up. However, it is important to keep in mind that most Outreach schools are small spaces that cannot physically contain all registered students face-to-face at one time, creating a limit on the attendance options. As discussed, the Flex Model, the Enriched Virtual model or variations on these are most relevant to the small, flexible Outreach school setting. The various models of blended learning presented above, whether based out of traditional brick and mortar schools or small alternative school buildings, provide a snapshot of the possibilities for blended model variations. These model variations can help inform what a model of blended learning might look like at an Outreach school. Ferdig, Cavanaugh & Freidhoff (2015) warn that “there are multiple models and that not every model is right for every situation,” which only emphasises the importance of exploring as many models as possible (p. 57).
Blended Learning and Student Achievement
The accolades and hopes for the future of blended learning have been presented throughout this paper and as Akkoyunlu and Soylu (2008) advise, blended learning has all the benefits of e-learning, including “cost reductions, time efficiency and location convenience for the learner as well as the essential one-on-one personal understanding and motivation that face-to-face instructions presents," but most importantly the research on blended learning also supports many of these claims (p.184). Research shows that blended learning improves student success - be it increases in graduation rates or student achievement (Watson et. al, 2014; Mattis, 2015; Kazu & Demirkol, 2014; Means et. al., 2013).
Blended Learning with At-Risk Students
The focus of this study was to determine if blended learning could be used to improve at-risk student success in an Outreach school setting. Some next steps for future research would be to look deeper into the specific conditions that create the successful blended learning environments for at-risk students. It was disappointing to see the limited empirical research available on at-risk students, especially since these students make up a large proportion of those found in blended learning environments (Barbour, 2009; Repetto & Spitler, 2014). Due to the limited research on K-12 at-risk students specifically in blended learning environments, more empirical studies must be performed before robust conclusions can be formed. Hopefully research in this area will increase, specifically in the K-12 Canadian context.