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Kansas District Expands Blended Learning Districtwide

Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas is bringing blended learning to all 20 of its schools following a pilot last spring.

The aim of the move to a blended learning model is to allow students to work more at their own pace, engage in personalized learning, and work on independent and virtual group projects — with the ultimate goal of improving learning by engaging students more effectively and promoting college and career readiness.

As part of the effort, the district is moving to Blackboard Learn as its e-learning platform, at an estimated five-year cost of about $500,000, including training. According to information released b the district, the selection followed a lengthy review process and a pilot program that tested out one other learning management system.

"It was clear to us from the beginning that Blackboard knows K-12 education," said Angelique Kobler, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for Lawrence PS, in a prepared statement. "We can easily see ourselves using in it in our classrooms and by parents to access academic information. Blackboard Learn was the only option we looked at that was drive-off-the-lot ready. Some of the other options had features still in development. We needed a platform that fully supports the goals of our blended learning initiative now and in the future."

Lawrence PS/Unified School District 497 operates 14 elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools in Lawrence, KS. It also operates the Lawrence Virtual School, serving K–8 students statewide, and the Lawrence Virtual High School, serving students in grades 9–12 statewide.

Additional details about Lawrence's evaluation, including a breakdown of costs, can be found in a memorandum on the district's site (PDF). More information about Lawrence's blended learning model is also available online.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).