Blended and Project-Based Learning
The primary service provided by Kona School is educating students using an innovative approach that combines Blended Learning and Project-Based Learning models. Research confirms that combining online curriculum delivery with highly personalized instruction produces superior academic performance. Not only do students’ test scores improve when face-to-face and online instruction are combined, but a deeper learning occurs as students have greater involvement with the material. Kathleen King’s research demonstrates that Blended Learning improves critical thinking and leads to “dynamic interactive dialogue, and substantial peer-to-peer interaction.” Blended Learning is also linked with increasing higher order thinking skills. Students have shown a preference to blended learning because they are offered “more instructional strategies and resources” and it fosters peer collaboration and student-instructor interaction leading to a greater sense of community. There is also a greater appreciation for added creativity, flexibility, and interaction with course assignments.
Not only has Blended Learning been shown to be academically superior to traditional learning methods, it is also a more economical option. One study determined that institutions reduce costs by 40% while increasing course-completion and retention rates and improving student satisfaction.
Project-Based Learning is the use of in-depth and rigorous projects to facilitate authentic learning and assess student competence. Project-Based Learning emphasizes learning activities that are cross-curricular, have meaning to students, and have value beyond the classroom.
Capturing Student Interest
The core idea of Project-Based Learning is that real-world problems capture students’ interest and provoke serious thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The Learning Coach plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame engaging questions, structuring meaningful tasks, teaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. Advocates assert that Project-Based Learning helps prepare students for the thinking and collaboration skills required in the workplace.
Research confirms that this approach enhances the quality of student learning, resulting in better attitudes toward subjects as well as having a positive effect on equity: the link between performance and student economic level disappeared in Project-Based schools and increased in traditional schools. One study compared student mathematics achievement in two similar British secondary schools, one using traditional instruction and the other using project-based instruction. After three years, students in the Project-Based Learning school significantly outperformed the traditional school students in mathematics skills as well as conceptual and applied knowledge. In fact, in the project-based-learning school, three times as many students passed the national exam.
 Heather Staker, The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning: Profiles of Emerging Models. May 2011, 18.
 Garrison, D.R & Kanuta, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education. 7(2), 95-105.
 King, K. (2002). Identifying success in online teacher education and professional development. Internet and Higher Education, 5, 231-246.
 Meyer, K. (2003). Face-to-face versus threaded discussions: The role of time and higher-order thinking. Journal of Asynchronous Networks, 7(3), 55-65.
 Humbert, J. & Vignare, K. (2005). RIT introduces blended learning—successfully!. In J. C. Moore (ed.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities, Wisdom from the Sloan Consortium, Volume 2 in the Wisdom Series. Needham, MA: Sloan-C.
 Rovai, A.P., & Jordan, H.M. (2004, August). Blended learning and sense of community: A comparative analysis with traditional and fully online graduate courses. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 5(2). Retrieved March 17, 2005 from
 King, loc. cit.
 King, P., & Hildreth, D. (2001). Internet courses: Are they worth the effort? Journal of College Science Teaching, 31, 112-115.
 Twigg, C. (2003, September/October). Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning. Educause Review, 28-38.
 Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291–315.
 Boaler, J. (2002). Learning from teaching: Exploring the relationship between reform curriculum and equity. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 33(4), 239–258.