A blended classroom. Image courtesy of ACSAmman
In a recent post titled: Four Essential Principles of Blended Learning, these were key elements that viewed as critical to the successful implementation:
1. EVERY SCHOOL NEEDS A VISION.
2. ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL.
3. DON’T LET SOFTWARE DICTATE LEARNING GOALS.
4. SUPPORT TEACHERS AND INCLUDE THEM IN DECISION-MAKING PROCESS.
Yes, I agree with each of these. A clear vision needs to be established with a direction for supporting and providing professional development support for the teachers, school leaders and community. However, technology is just the vehicle, it is not the end game. The end game is a highly engaged learner who can think critically, problem solve, communicate and adapt to a model that supports his or her personalized learning plan. While blended learning is all the buzz, it isn’t new. When I started teaching back in the early 90′s, we had instructional software and computer labs where students went to work on their personalized learning plan. Teachers used traditional classroom resources and then went to the computer stations to extend their writing activity, projects, or skill content for intervention. What is current and why blended learning matters is that it is not a pull out program, it’s not a computer lab at the end of the hall, it’s not even the technology at every students desk. It matters because it’s all stakeholders including teachers, parents, students and community working together to enhance the teaching and learning process. Teachers can use the means of technology as a resource to quickly pull up data, show an example, interact with others, assess mastery of skills, model a lesson or explore a concept. In the same way that teachers used overhead projectors to convey a concept, there are good teaching examples and not so good teaching examples for using an overhead projector. The same can be said for blended learning, digital whiteboards, mobile devices, etc. Teachers can use them as a drill and kill resource or as a tool to lecture or draw up electronic worksheets. Or, teachers can use them to define a project task and engage students in the process of completing a final project that demonstrates transfer of knowledge. Blended learning matters because it creates the opportunity for all participants to be highly engaged, to be learners and to teach others, not just the teacher.
There has been much published on blended learning and key components to a successful implementation – begin with the end in mind.