SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Parents of students who are presently enrolled in the third or fourth grade are invited to participate in Hale Kula Elementary School's Department of Defense Education Activity-funded Blended Learning (BL) program for school year 2013-2014.

Students in the BL classrooms at Hale Kula attend school twice a week in a traditional setting and receive lessons virtually via a learning platform system at home on the other days.

The class teaches students the skills and strategies to be a self-directed learner and addresses the 4C's (collaborate, communicate, think critically and create), which are essential components of a 21st century classroom.

At a recent information session, parents shared positive comments about the program, including appreciation that their children receive specialized attention, experience working with technology and have multiple opportunities to collaborate with their peers.

"I didn't choose Blended Learning; my son chose it and talked me into it," said Louise Hurley. "It's been his best experience yet, in education. We thought the challenge would be not having the social outlet of the face-to-face class, not being a part of the school. This has not been a barrier at all."

Parents also shared that their children are learning to be problem-solvers. For example, if a child has a question in the classroom, he/she asks the teacher and gets an answer. In BL, the child has to search for the answer him/herself. Parents expressed that it is so empowering when their children find it on their own.

Parents are often concerned about the social aspect of the program and whether their children will have social opportunities to "belong" to the school. Students in BL can participate in all the school-wide service and grade-level activities, as well as activities such as cross country, Robotics or ukulele class.

(Editor's note: Iwase is principal of Hale Kula Elementary School.)