Sunday, 6 October 2013

Blended Learning - What does it take?

Blended learning is a fairly new concept to me as an educator and I am enjoying reading through the variety of classroom, school etc. approaches to this new teaching philosophy. I found the posting by Heather Wolpert-Gawlron in Edutopia to be particularly informative as she outlines the skills needed to become a Blended Learning educator. Blending "face to face" teacher/student interactions with onsite and offsite online lessons and activities has it's possibilities and it's challenges. Technology has provided students with opportunities for real world learning, global communication/collaboration, and self directed learning. However, is this a good fit for every student?
Technology is not a one size fits all tool. As educators, as with any initiative we have to be confident in our own knowledge and abilities to be able to deliver a program that will bring success to all of our students. It really goes back to my previous post about Ongoing Professional Learning not only for individual teachers but as the school community as a whole. Teachers need to be educated in order to make choices of instruction that will "best fit" the individual needs of their students, to be able to effectively model the critical thinking, analyzing, organizing and evaluating skills students need to navigate through a digital world. My concern as that with students; teachers are varied in their skill and knowledge. Schools need to be able to support this initiative with the leadership and resources needed to provide continuity to students for whom this approach is successful. Heather Wolpert-Gawlron outlines a few key skills that are essential for providing a Blended Learning environment: 1. Teachers/Schools need to be flexible. Technology is not perfect and not all programs will be a good fit. 2. Problem Solving - Teachers need the ability to be able to train their students to be problem solvers. A life skill that is essential for future success. If you increase student independence than you must model and teach the skills to help them be independent. 3. Patience - not only are you supporting your students but parents/guardians who are also part of the learning community. 4. Effective Scaffolding (Crucial) - We should never assume that just because we are in the digital age that all students are familiar with technology tools. Creating and contributing to blogs can be a great communication tool but many students still need step by step instructions in order to be able to participate. 5. Use a variety of tools both digital and "old fashion". Never ignore the importance of mentorship and classroom dialogue 6. Willingness to give up time - new things take time to master, coordinate and implement.

1 comment:

  1. We should never assume that just because we are in the digital age that all students are familiar with technology tools. <-- what a great statement. You discuss blended learning with such detail, giving many examples. Since Blended learning is about combining the face to face with digital means, I wonder if we could simplify it. Are tools like Facebook, Twitter, or even online gaming considered Blended Learning? How could you integrate the tools that students already know?