Blended Learning – more than just laptops or iPads on a cart.

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I’ll take educational buzz-phrases for $200, Alex!

Wikipedia refers to blended learning as “an education that combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. According to its proponents, the strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and students.”

What?! Simplicity please. Blended learning is what is says it is… it’s a blending of ways of learning that syncs with differentiation. If done properly, blended learning will reach all learners in a classroom, and on the level that they truly are learning (not the one-size-fits-all motion).

So many out there believe that blended learning is simply rolling in the cart of laptops / iPads, having their ‘computers’ special like art or PE, or just using technology. :: insert buzzer sound here::

Some brief background first; the research among many scholarly articles & websites points to teachers spending most of their time teaching to the middle of a diverse classroom {Ironically, have you looked at how some states will be measuring student growth vis-a-vie looking at only the median of a class?! what kind of message does that send?!?}. Your best and brightest, along with those that will do a modicum of work at best, are left out in the cold. Blended learning, if implemented effectively, will alleviate this.

Blending learning

  • requires a clear plan, effective design, strong implementation, and consistent support. If these four elements are not researched and not implemented in strong, meaningful manner, you’re sunk.

  • Blended learning also requires

  • academic goals to be set.

  • While this sounds like this should already be in place via vision / mission statement, you’d be surprised how many schools don’t have goals (as in real, attainable goals).

  • With academic goals set, coupled with successful integration of digital content, you can achieve true differentiation can be achieved by supporting different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Despite all of the buzzwords and edu-babble that is running amok, Bloom’s is still a staple, and regardless of year of teaching you’re in, you can (or should) be able to relate to it.

Successful blended learning models can include lab rotations, class rotations, flex models, and mini-learning stations.Successful blended learning also requires consistent instructional time (length wise) and a rock-star I/T staff to troubleshoot as needed.

  • A true blended learning classroom should have differentiated instruction, individualized learning, be student centered (see graphic below), and possess high fidelity data to help the educator see who needs help and where.

Do you or your teachers have a few of these or all of these in your / their classroom? If you do, you’re well on your way to TRUE blended learning. If anything, just don’t call computer time or the laptop cart ‘blended learning’!

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