Archive for the 'Blended Learning' Category

Join the #BlendedTeacher #BlendedLearning Network

Join the  “Blended Teacher Network.”  It’s free! (www.blendedteachernetwork.org

Blended Teacher Network Image

The Blended Teacher Network (BTN) will be a place for teachers to share ideas, strategies and tools about blended learning. As you know, blended teaching and learning is much more than simply putting a computer in front of a student or a lesson plan online or uploading a video – it involves a pedagogical shift in teaching that causes students to become more engaged in their learning.

Many organizations and individuals have defined blended learning, written case studies, produced research and reports, and discussed its importance. At the heart of all research and reports regarding learning is the teacher. Teaching has become more complex as more computer and online technologies have become available. The network will help you to sort through these complexities of being a blended teacher.

The purpose of the BTN is for teachers to learn from each other about what blended learning means, to contribute to the complex field of blended teaching, and to validate your work in your schools and in your classrooms.

Join the network to share your expertise and then invite your colleagues. Meet, empower, encourage and help grow the network.

#BlendedLearning Research and Resources

The term, “blended learning” grew out of online learning and was first introduced in literature at the college level in 2004 and then at the K-12 level in 2014. The first K-12 online school opened in 1994 with the bulk of online programs opening in the mid 2000s. The first blended learning school is difficult to determine, but many suggest it was Rocketship Charter Schools that opened in San Jose, Ca 2007. It is important to note that the field of K-12 online learning began approximately in 1997 and the field of blended learning began approximately in 2007. Research in the fields of blended and online learning is emerging as you can’t study or research or evaluate something that does not exist. In addition, you can find ongoing research on my website here.

Listed below are resources that have developed in the field of blended learning.

Case Studies

Blended Learning Guides and Reports

Blended Learning Webinars

Blended Learning Videos

 

WebsitesTwitter Hastag for Blended Learning – #blendedlearning

#BlendedLearning Implementation: New vs. Transforming Schools and are they Disruptive?

As I have previously written, there are six elements that are needed to implement an effective and efficient blended learning program. These elements are needed whether you are starting up a new school or whether you are transforming an established (traditional) school. Another way to look at this has been described by the Christensen Institute and their recent paper (2013) entitled, “Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? An Introduction of the Theory of Hybrids.” In this paper they point out the differences between disruptive and sustaining innovations; and that, often, industries go through a hybrid stage “when they are in the middle of disruptive transformation.”  When applied to schools, they predict that “hybrid schools which combine existing schools with new classroom models will be the dominant model of schooling in the U.S. in the future.” In addition, Michael Horn in this blogpost about the paper release, suggested that it “all depends” on a number of factors whether a blended learning school is disruptive.

In a recent related example, Clayton Christensen posits that the Harvard Business School moving to online learning is a sustaining innovation, and stated, “There have been a few companies that have survived disruption, but in every case they set up an independent business unit that let people learn how to play ball in the new game…”   And then Michael Porter refuted Christensen’s claim saying, “giving away your most valuable asset for free –the best professors teaching the most desired classes in front of cameras to tens of thousands of people who often drop out of these courses–is no business model for the future…”

What I find interesting is that business academics continue to try and use examples from the business world and then apply them to education. Generally, education is its own entity – whether public or private – and not a business in the same way as a company such as Google or IBM or Ford Motor Company.   As much as academics and business professionals would like to apply all business principles to education, it just does not work because of the multiple variables that exist in educating students. However, it continues to be thought provoking to apply business principles to education, especially when considering if a school is a disruptive or sustaining innovation. The Christensen Institute paper that defines what makes a blended learning initiative disruptive or sustaining is similar to how a traditional school transforms to blended learning and how a new charter schools opens with blended learning already in place.  It is much easier to start a new school and make it blended than it is to transform a traditional public school to blended learning.

Examples of charter schools opening with blended learning as the expectation include Rocketship, Summit Schools and the KIPP Empower Academy. Each of these schools hired staff and put technology infrastructure in place to implement blended learning. Each of these would fit the “disruptive innovation” definition. In traditional school settings, a few places are beginning to disrupt schooling through blended learning such as the PASE Prep Academy within Southeastern High School in Detroit.

Other schools will remain as a “sustaining innovation” because it just takes too many resources to truly disrupt a traditional school system. As Christensen, Horn and Staker write in the paper,

A common misreading of the theory of disruptive innovation is that disruptive innovations are good and sustaining innovations are bad. This is false. Sustaining innovations are vital to a healthy and robust sector, as organizations strive to make better products or deliver better services to their best customers.

The confusion here is, can we apply this theory to education and consider students and parents our customers and truly make the distinction between disruptive and sustaining innovations? I’m not sure of the answer, but suffice it to say that it is easier for a new school or a new school within a school to create what may become a disruptive innovation than it is to transform a traditional school so that it becomes disruptive. This is what I think the book, Disrupting Class, illustrated so clearly. Traditional schools may reach the level of a sustaining innovation and this may be good enough to impact student achievement and cause more students to graduate and be college and career ready.

 

 

#BlendedLearning Implementation: Sustainability and The Big 3

Last week I wrote about the 6 Elements for the Implementation and Sustainability of Blended Learning initiatives that I helped develop for iNACOL. The six elements that are needed to sustain and implement a blended learning program include: leadership, professional development, teaching/instructional practice, operations and policies, content and technology.

Within each of these elements, there are specific tools, strategies and pedagogy that need to be considered. And there are what many of us would consider “The Big 3″ areas that will help to sustain the blended learning program. These three areas are: Cost, Evaluation and Quality. The questions to ask regarding each of these areas are listed after each below.

Costs/Funding

  • Which ongoing and one-time funds will be used for supporting the blended learning initiative?   One-time funds may be used for implementation of the program. However, identifying ongoing funding for all aspects of the initiative are critical for sustainability. These areas for ongoing funding include professional development for both administrators and teachers, technology, content, support, and devices.

Evaluation/Research

  • What ongoing metrics will provide ongoing information about the progress of the blended learning initiative? What type of ongoing surveys for teachers and students will provide ongoing progress towards the goals? Formative assessments that are both academic and non-cognitive will guide the initiative forward. Simply using end-of-the-year standardized test scores is not enough to provide the ongoing needed information to ensure success of the program. Remember, blended learning initiatives can be messy, so identifying metrics that are not necessarily used in traditional school programs will help to further the goals of the program.

Quality

  • How will you determine that the teaching and content in the blended program is of high quality? What should a school administrator be looking for when observing and evaluating blended teachers? Ongoing quality control should be built into the initiative similar to the ways textbooks are selected for courses or the way that specific teaching objectives are identified for teachers to utilize. Overall, look at the established goals and then agree on what quality will look like at each stage of the implementation.

#Blendedlearning Implementation: Technology

This is the continuation in a series about the 6 Elements for the Implementation and Sustainability of Blended Learning initiatives that I helped develop for iNACOL. The six elements that are needed to sustain and implement a blended learning program include:

elementgraphic2* Element 1: Leadership
* Element 2: Professional Development
* Element 3: Teaching / Instructional Practice
* Element 4: Operations, Systems and Policies
* Element 5: Content
* Element 6: Technology

When I talk about the technology, others refer to this as the technology backbone or infrastructure. This includes the network, software and hardware, and devices used to access the content and resources for the blended learning initiative. Most school districts and schools have this infrastructure in place at some level. However, as any educator or student knows, if you can’t access what you’re looking for when you want it, then the infrastructure is not working right. The goal is to make sure there is a reliable and robust network that can be accessed by administrators, teachers and students when they need to use it. Many years ago, I had the good fortune of visiting the main office of eBay in San Jose, California. They showed us their main computer room and shared that their goal is to be up and working 99% of the time. That seems like a reasonable goal for any technology infrastructure in any school district or system.

In addition to ensuring that the technology infrastructure is reliable, there is also the need for ongoing support in operating the technology, the devices utilized and how to access the online resources. In the beginning, this support is critical and is much more time intensive than it will be once the initiative is up and running. The technology support staff should be the type of people who are encouraging and empowering to the end users, whether the end user is an administrator, teacher, parent or student.

School leaders should should consider the following key questions regarding the technology used for the blended learning initiative:

  • What technology, hardware, software, and networking, will be needed to run a successful blended learning initiative?
  • What technology infrastructure is currently available to support blended learning?
  • What investments need to be made to the school’s technological infrastructure including but not limited to bandwidth, hardware, and software?
  • What support systems are needed to maintain the technological infrastructure?
  • Will the school employ a single-platform hardware approach or utilize multiple platforms (PC, Macs)?
  • Will the school support BYOD (bring your own device) for students?
  • If the school is providing devices for staff and students, what is the ongoing plan and funding for the devices? Will you purchase or lease?
  • If the school is providing devices for staff and students, what is the ongoing plan and funding to refresh the devices? (every 3 years? or 4 years?)
  • Will staff and students access the network via wireless or hard wired?
  • What technology accessibility, if any, will students need to have outside of school?
  • How do you ensure interoperability between systems (content, hardware, learning management system)?

Overall, schools or districts will want to ensure a successful implementation of a blended learning initiative by putting the following technology infrastructure support systems and promising practices in place:

  • A robust network that can be accessed by a variety of student and teacher devices.
  • A course management system/platform has been provided for use by blended teachers, including individualized student logins, discussion board, teacher assignments, and digital grade book.
  • A platform that includes reporting and analytic capabilities that provide information to the teacher about student learning and provide opportunities for teachers to individualize student learning.
  • District technical support is available via phone and email.
  • Ongoing meetings between leadership, teachers and students about technology use and tools that facilitate progress towards the blended learning goals.
  • Ongoing communication loops (e.g. website of FAQs, ongoing blog about issues, use of Twitter, etc.) between the technology support people, school administrators, teachers, students and parents about the overall technology infrastructure and blended learning initiative.
  • Ongoing training and professional development and materials for administrators, teachers and students in the use of technology and the technology tools (this should include face-to-face, online, videos, how-to videos, screenshots, etc.) and never underestimate how students can help with this as well.

Next week, I’ll share how these elements are being instituted in a variety of schools and settings throughout the U.S.


Rob’s Tweets

Flickr Photos

sandfootprints

nbbeachsunset2

nbbeachsunset

nbbeachevening

More Photos

Archives


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,582 other followers