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Save the Date for next year: July 7-8, 2015
@ Sheraton Denver Downtown, Denver, CO

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Missed the 11th Annual Blended Learning Conference and Workshop? No problem – you can still gain access to over 40 recorded presentations to view at your convenience for one full year. Get your virtual package here.

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Are you going to #blend14?

New for 2014! Technology Test Kitchen - BYOD to learn, explore, and share knowledge within this lab environment

Technology Test Kitchen


Full Program Now Posted

Blended Effective Practice Award Winners Announced

Best-in-Track Award Winners Announced - Read the Press Release

Mark Milliron, Civitas Learning, to deliver Keynote Address

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Unconference Session

Get the inside scoop on the event from key presenters, sponsors and OLC executives in these interviews.


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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Flex-Plus Model: Augmenting Academics with Social and Emotional Support to Serve At-Risk Students

Heather O'Mara (HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op, USA)
Zach Macaluso (HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op, USA)
Melanie Stone (HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op, USA)
HOPE student Aidee (HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 4:30pm
Blended Models and Course Design
Areas of Special Interest: 
Innovative Blends
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Best Practices
Institutional Level: 
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Plaza Ballroom D
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 3
Virtual Session

Seeking effective ways to leverage blended learning to engage and support at-risk students? Learn how one school achieved these goals by implementing a "whole-child" approach.

Extended Abstract

For nearly twenty years, online learning has been used to help graduate under-credit and at-risk students. But this model does little to truly engage these students and foster their capacity for life-long learning. Blended learning, however, has the potential to transform this underperforming population into successful learners. One school to realize great gains for at-risk students using a blended learning model is HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op in Colorado.

HOPE offers an innovative academic model blending online and offline curriculum in a supportive, community-based classroom environment to help students succeed. Learning Centers are safe, supportive environments, operated by non-profit community organizations. The flexibility of HOPE's model allows Learning Centers to accommodate the diverse cultural and language needs of the neighborhoods they serve. HOPE ensures that graduates are college- and career-ready by employing nationally recognized benchmark assessments such as ACT and Accuplacer.

HOPE's unique approach goes beyond blended learning and recognizes that for at-risk students to be successful and recover their credits to graduate, a sense of belonging and affiliation is just as critical as high-quality curriculum. In the HOPE model, "Affiliation" is a key pillar—evidenced by a rapidly expanding athletic department, a world-class arts program that includes visual arts and dance, and multiple school-wide academic events that encourage a love of learning. At HOPE, the whole student is engaged and supported - their academic, social, and emotional needs.
This presentation is designed as a panel discussion to provide actionable information for frontline educators, and others who are interested in finding an effective way to evolve blended learning programs to drive engagement and success in underserved populations.

Based on best-practices and HOPE's step-by-step implementation model, panelists will discuss how blended learning models are changing - and improving - the educational, social, and emotional outcomes of students who were unsuccessful in a traditional brick and mortar schools.

Specifically, after attending this presentation, participants will:

• Understand the role of extracurricular activities in fostering a sense of belonging in underserved student populations and elevating engagement academically;
• Have an approach they can use to improve student outcomes by better coordinating community involvement;
• Have identifiable, practical strategies to build a scalable and sustainable "flex-plus" blended learning model;
• Be able to take a leadership role in the creation of expanded community networks to support localized neighborhood learning centers.

In this presentation, HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op panelists will discuss their experience growing a network of neighborhood schools by providing established community organizations with high quality curriculum and administrative support, in exchange for physical space and guaranteed staffing. This session will explore lessons learned, established best practices, and forward-looking strategies.

For example, CEO Heather O'Mara will discuss the key business challenges they faced, the engagement problem they were trying to solve, the solution they chose, the challenges of implementing that solution and how HOPE resolved them, and the results they have seen since implementation. Zach Macaluso will articulate a connection between student participation in activities and increased classroom engagement and overall confidence and demeanor.

The presentation will be guided by a PowerPoint slide deck and will feature an interactive question and answer session to engage attendees in the conversation, so that it can explore challenges their institutions face and discuss how they might be able to leverage a community-based approach to learning.

Lead Presenter

Heather O'Mara is CEO of HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-op.