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Volume 27, Number 2
March/April 2011

Hybrid Schools for the iGeneration

New schools combine “bricks” and “clicks”


Students work online in the Learning Center at Carpe Diem, a hybrid school in Yuma, Ariz.

School buses begin pulling up in front of Carpe Diem, a middle and high school in Yuma, Ariz., around 7:15 in the morning. In the next 30 minutes, 273 students in crisp uniforms will walk through the front doors and have their ID badges scanned to record their attendance.

By 7:45, most will be sitting in front of computers at their work stations—row upon row of individual study carrels in a big open space administrators call the Learning Center. Middle school students sit on one side of the room, high school students on the other, separated by an area with cushy couches and tables called the Fishbowl, where students gather to chat between classes or to work on group projects.

For the next 55 minutes, students work independently at their computers, learning core subjects or electives through online curricula aligned to Arizona’s state standards. They put on headphones or twist iPod ear buds into their ears, because the online programs are interactive and multimodal—comprised of audio, video vignettes, Flash animation, quizzes, and games. Paraprofessionals called “assistant coaches” walk through the center to make sure kids are doing their work, fix computer glitches, help with academic questions, and—most important, administrators say—check in emotionally with the students, talking with them about anything at home or at school that might be affecting their learning.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

M.B. Horn and H. Staker. The Rise of K–12 Blended Learning. Mountain View, CA: Innosight Institute, 2011.

B. Means et al. Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Educa-tion, 2009.