Friday, August 29, 2014

Understanding Blended Learning

(courtesy thriftyfun.com)

For the past few years educators have worked tirelessly to ensure that students in today’s classrooms, the same students that are preparing for jobs that don’t even exit yet, are receiving instruction that incorporates devices, or computers, as part of their learning experience. As educators know, incorporating technology is simply, integration. 

As academic leaders we have been spending time and energy, and most significantly dollars, so that technology is a part of each classroom and so that teachers are being supported in their work. With these efforts we have seen results. The investment has been worth it.

For the most part, technology integration was the path that we knew best. We have given teachers support with devices, students or the schools, and we asked them to enhance the learning experience within the classroom walls. We have overcome the barriers.  And in the end we have had some great success.

With all of that said, we are now learning more and more about Blended Learning. For many, the shift is on and we have been hearing more and more about the differences from simply adding technology to how we use this technology within the learning. How are they different? Do we have to toss that all away and head in another direction?

(educationrethink.com)

Then answer is “No”. In fact, if you work in an environment in which teachers and the school community has embraced technology integration over time, you are that much closer to being successful at sharing with your stakeholders the Blended Learning model.

Our technology integration simply needs “tweaked”. 

Blended Learning by any definition is taking the classroom instruction (in all its forms including the use of devices) and adding an online component that supports what is being taught within the classroom setting.  Here are 7 Characteristics of the Hilliard City School Districts Learning Environment of Blended Learning. As you read them, see how they translate into your teaching and how they would apply in your classroom, school or district. And, see how which side of the equation you fall on. Integrated or Blended?
(courtesy Hilliard City Schools)

As you read the language of each, there is a resounding message of connectivity between the traditional classroom setting and the digital elements of the learning environment. Assuming you can uphold the intentions of what Blended Learning is intended to be, then the environments in which are created, and the experience both the teacher and student will partake in, the results will be astounding. 

Now that we are shifting away from integrated and into Blended, make sure to take the time to work with your colleagues. Welcome everyone to the table, have the conversations, share experiences, perspectives and areas of expertise. Know that there can be more than one path to the intended outcome. There has been so much positive accomplished already that we need to build upon on our success. Teachers and their embracing of technology in instruction is constantly on the rise and we should continue to build upon that momentum.


And, of course, ask questions. There is plenty to learn along the way.