December14, 2015

Blended Learning

Blended, Ch. 3

Digital solutions have improved worker productivity to the tune of 2% per year for the last 60 years. Education is not the same as industry, but can technology give us a boost at a relativity low cost? Today it simply doesn’t make sense to ignore something that is an integral part of every student’s life. The caveat is that we must approach technology from the benefits it can bring to the classroom, and not just the bells and whistles that grab your attention. The SMARTBoard is an example of technology that could get students more actively involved in learning, or it could simply be a very expensive electronic blackboard.

What we face today is how to make sure we maximize a “computer in every hand.” In 1981, the average student to computer ratio in the U.S. was 1 to 125; in 2009 it was 1 to 5. How do we use computers to transform instructional practices, and not become the SMARTBoard glorified blackboard? School communities must take deliberate steps to blend technology by first identifying the problem to solve, or goal to achieve. As the Heath brothers proposed in Switch, we need to start with a rallying cry for where we want to go. The goal should be grounded in improving learning, not in how to utilize technology. Then, we may move on to how can technology assist in achieving this goal.

Testimionial from a former math teacher (me)

It has been many years since I taught high school math. I have truly been fortunate to have the opportunity to become re-engaged with educators this year. With the inclusion of technology in so much of our daily existence, and therefore in the classroom, I have thought about how I could have utilized technology in my class.

When I learned about flipped classrooms a few years ago, I “got it.” In the traditional classroom, I taught to the middle of the road. I tried to pace instruction so that my students with math aptitude didn’t become bored, and so those who struggled didn’t get lost. There was nothing personalized about that approach.

With flipped instruction, students could access the new (i.e. lecture) material on their devices as homework. If they needed further instruction, I could work with them in small groups in class, while those who mastered the concepts seamlessly could pursue enrichment activities. Further, I could embed links to take them back to the basic concepts from previous math courses if they needed a refresher on how to factor trinomials before they tackled complex fractions. Instead of being “replaced” by technology, I would actually work with those students who needed me. Research indicates that blended learning is most effective when students are able to use technology while working with the teacher as learning facilitator. To me this means the teacher is even more vital to help students succeed, and to make those personal connections that every student needs.

Rob Kroll and Ryan Savage get the Trojans fired up about assessment..ugly holiday sweaters and all.

Middle of the Year iReady Announcement