The Blender

Blended Learning at Hickory Hills

A Book Study in Newsletter Form

"Blended" by Michael B. Horn & Heather Staker
Chapter 7 - Design the Virtual and Physical Setup

After the book tackles the most important problems first: goals, teams, and student and teacher experiences, chapter 7 now speaks to the decision of technology - software and device. When choosing the device and operating system, Blended Learning teams have to consider which allows for student choice, flexibility, and the opportunity to customize what they want for their students. Chromebooks are mentioned in the text, grabbing a fifth of U.S. K-12 purchases of mobile computers in 2013 with positives being their affordability, ability to power up lightning fast, virus-free environment, and easy ability to keep up to date.

Software decisions are discussed through four strategies: DIY - Build Your Own, Use One Outside Provider, Combine Multiple Providers, or Use a Facilitated Network (ex. Khan Academy). Many factors come into play when districts and/or school buildings are making this tough decision: existing structure/inventory, need, price, student experience, adaptability, data, flexibility, compatibility are just some of the considerations that a system must keep in mind.

Rethinking physical space big and small is mentioned briefly, from rearranging furniture to be more open and mobile to knocking down walls to building new facilities from the ground up. Examples of the shift in school design include furniture on wheels and fold-up tables and chairs removing any sense of the front of the room to separate rooms/areas for quiet learning, meeting space, common space, and breakout sessions. My favorite, New Learning Academy, uses their flexible space for five different activity modes: (1) Campfire - allowing for class work, (2) Watering Hole - allowing for small group work, (3) Cave - allowing for self-study, (4) Studio - allowing for projects, and (5) Multiple Intelligences - allowing for a mix of modes.

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