In the world of private education, there’s an affordability crisis. Parents want to send their kids to receive high-quality education at a private school, to give them all the opportunities they deserve. But with tuition costs rising to $20,000 to $30,000 a year, getting that kind of an education just wasn’t accessible to everyone who wanted it.
A new private school in New Jersey, the Pre-Collegiate Learning Center, saw that need in the community and responded by blending online learning with traditional classroom instruction. Lambda Solutions helped install and customize the Moodle learning management system for the Pre-Collegiate Learning Center, setting up an educational portal that allows them to provide a competitive private school education for just $5,000 a year.
Blended Learning. An Empowering Solution for Motivated Students
The 20 students in the pilot program at PCLC each bring a laptop to school. English and History classes still have plenty of traditional classroom lectures, but about a quarter of class work is completed online in projects and quizzes. Science and math classes use far more educational resources accessed through Moodle, such as instructional videos and tests, from Thinkell, Math Academy and other online educational hubs. When it comes to learning languages, 100 percent of the work is done on the computer, thanks to Rosetta Stone. The students feel engaged doing it.
“Blended learning has several advantages,” notes PCLC director Lauren Ariev Gellman. “This is how students learn today. To go at them with a more old-fashioned approach wouldn't work. Also, this kind of technology helps get them ready for after they graduate. It helps prepare them for the real world.”
Affordability is the third major advantage – though Gellman stresses that if the school couldn’t offer a high standard of education, the affordability of it wouldn’t matter. No parent would sign up their child unless they knew they were learning what they needed. Parents can log in to the portal using the student’s account to check on their progress, making the system transparent – and the school is looking at ways to boost their reporting capabilities to give parents even better information to track results.
Teaching and Coaching
Teachers monitor progress and coach the student through the learning process as needed. Some meet weekly while others will check in almost every day, depending on the student’s needs.
“The coach tracks the data, understands where the students are at and helps them get to where they are going,” Gellman says. “The most successful students tend to be very self-motivated.”
Scaling up the Education Revolution
The PCLC has been running the program only since September of 2011, but they’ve got plans to scale up. Demand for this kind of program is high. “By year six, we plan to have 150 students,” Gellman says.
PCLC’s method for solving the challenge of affordable private education may be progressive and almost futuristic, but according to Gellman, it seems to be right on track.
“Some experts have predicted that by 2013, 25 percent of public high school classes would be online and that by 2019, 50 percent of instruction would be online. I think it's actually happening.”
With the help of Lambda Solutions and Moodle, PCLC is offering blended learning that helps alleviate the pressure of affordability without compromising education quality – with some very positive implications for both private and public education.