Archive for the 'Blended Learning' Category

Learning about Badging #blendedlearning #srl14

I attended the MacArthur Foundation gathering to hear about badging.

badgesmozillaThe gathering was entitled “Summit to Reconnect Learning” and was held in Redwood City, Ca. I thought I knew about badging – I mean I’ve been on FourSquare for quite awhile and have earned lots of badges there!  What I’ve learned from interacting with a variety of people at this gathering is that badging is simple and complex. One of the speakers suggested that badging is where email was in 1965 – and that badging will become broadly adopted similar to email. Pathways of badging is one area to understand. Another area is how badging intersects with competency based education. And then, how badging fits with gaming systems that causes informal learning to occur.

The work that has already be done with badging appears to have started with Mozilla’s grant competition for digital badging in 2011. Since then, Mozilla and others have created a common vocabulary and concept papers that are open for anyone to use.

Throughout the gathering, there has been a combination of plenary talks, panel discussions and guided group discussions. The most productive time for me were the focused table top conversations that challenged us to identify how we may implement badging in our respective institutions and organizations. The other table top group that developed was one around badging for teacher professional development. It is interesting to think about how receiving badges for teacher professional development. I wonder about badging for professional development and how badging may fit into teacher education programs, credential renewal and ongoing professional development that allow teachers to move across a salary scale.

One of the more exciting projects shared was Chicago Summer of Learning which used a badging system for young people throughout the city in summer 2013. The case study here provides a nice snapshot of the program. There are people here from all major cities and are talking about how badging can extend learning for all ages of people beyond the school day – on school campuses, in libraries and in museums. One developing example is the Beyond the Bell program in LA Unified School District which is hoping to link schools, libraries and museums in the summer of 2014.

The excitement about badging was palpable among the attendees. This excitement has been helped with the active Twitter feed, the illustrator who has kept visual notes of the proceedings and the overall organization of the event.








Helpful Links to Learn More:

Blended Learning (and Teaching) is Messy #blendedlearning

This post from Jill Thompson reminded me I had been wanting to write on this topic for awhile. She points out that there is a difference between technology integration and blended learning. I couldn’t agree more. This is why I have hopefully helped to clarify it with this “Continuum from Textbook Enhanced to Online Teaching and Learning.” In addition this presentation entitled “Blended Learning, How do you know it when you see it?” was by my colleague, Allison Powell and myself which may help clarify blended learning a bit more. It is difficult to just talk about blended learning without also observing it.

iNACOL has produced two documents recently to help clarify what blended learning is for the field. The first is “Mean What You Say: Defining and Integrating Personalized, Blended and Competency Education“. This document points out that in order to really personalize learning, it has to be a blended teaching approach. It would be very difficult for a teacher nowadays to personalize learning, but not also be a blended teacher. A blended learning teacher not only uses the technology to enhance student learning, but also transforms in their teaching pedagogy and curriculum design in a way that causes more student involvement and engagement in their learning.

The second document is the “A Roadmap for Implementation of Blended Learning at the School Level”  that was completed in collaboration with the New York Public Schools, iLEARN NYC initiative.  This was written  after observing, interacting and interviewing teachers and administrators in blended learning schools throughout New York City.  Many school administrators may especially appreciate the rubric and observation tools found at the end of the document.  The purpose is really to identify how blended learning looks at the school and classroom level. This Blackboard Collaborate recorded webinar , “A Day in the Life of a Blended Learning Teacher” also further clarifies blended learning from a teacher perspective.

iNACOL is now in the process of refining this roadmap so that it is more national in scope and may provide guidance for blended learning schools throughout the U.S. and the world about the implementation, monitoring and sustainability of blended learning programs.

California eLearning Symposium #elearns

I had seen the tweets within other people’s blogposts so I wondered how to insert Tweets into my blog. I just figured out how to do this, so thought I would create this first blogpost about my learning at the California eLearning Strategies Symposium.

The depth of conversation in California about online and blended learning has increased. Much of my learning now occurs in the tweets I send out and retweet from others during a conference.  Here they are…a few selected tweets and retweets …. going backwards:

Digital Learning Day in February, will you be there?

Happy Digital Learning Day! #DLday

I can’t think of a better place so spend Digital Learning Day than at a school – whether it is a building, a blended learning environment or online.

Today, I was fortunate to be at the Bronx Arena High School in the Bronx. iLearnNYC Implementation managers Britt Neuhaus and Gerard Zoehfeld organized a cohort meeting to take place at the Bronx Arena School. Cohort meetings invite members of each cohort to attend a professional development day focused on blended learning.

bronxarenacohortmeetingFeb2012 In addition to information shared by Bronx Arena principal Ty Cesena, Bronx Arena students toured three different groups around the school – visiting classrooms and talking with students. Bronx Arena High School are for students who are over aged and under credited students who have not yet earned their high school diploma. In each classroom, we saw each student on the computer, the “teacher’s area” was somewhere central in the classroom and the teacher was either circulating around the room or meeting with individuals or small groups of students. The school has a course management system that they developed with content developed by the teachers. This is the content that students are using for their learning.

As part of our observation, we were asked to look for evidence of blended learning around these types of facilitation modes:

  • One-to-one support
  • Small group mini-lessons
  • Small group discussions
  • Conferencing
  • Whole group instruction
  • Peer to peer interaction
  • Teacher circulation

In addition to the observations and discussions, we invited three principals to be part of a “Conversation about Implementing Blended Learning.”  This digital learning day activity information can be found on the iLearnNYC wiki. The three principals are all at schools where blended learning is being implemented in a variety of ways. Peter Oroszlany is principal at Mott Hall V, which is a school with grades 6-11. They have begun to implement blended learning with science teachers in grades 6, 7 and 8. PJ Murray is principal of Olympus Academy, a transfer school for students who are over aged and under credited student. And Ty Cesena is principal of Bronx Arena High School, also a transfer school.   They were asked a series of questions.  The common information that was shared if you are planning to implement blended learning is:

  • All students need to have their own computer or device
  • Start small and build
  • Build relationships with teachers and check in with them on a daily basis
  • Provide time for teachers to plan and discuss how blended learning is working as related to student outcomes (all schools have dedicated time for teachers at least once a week)
  • The teachers now spend more time circulating around classrooms interacting with students both individually and in groups more when there is blended teaching.

The entire conversation was U-Streamed and recorded. Enjoy watching the conversation here.  (Those of us involved in the recording, now realize that we should have had a microphone for the speakers, so the audio is a little quiet in spots).

The questions answered by the principals were as follows:

  1. When you first started blended learning at your school, what did you do to support teachers at your school to move in this direction – to buy-in to blended learning?
  2. Now that blended learning is functioning in your schools, what ongoing strategies/professional development takes place to support teachers?
  3. What measures (formal and informal) are you using in your school that indicate blended learning is being successful?
  4. How has the teacher experience different since you have shifted to a blended model?
  5. What other tips would you offer an administrator who would like to have their school shift to blended learning?

Happy Digital Learning Day!

“New” Blended Learning Definition

Heather Staker and Michael Horn have done an admirable job of further defining “blended learning” in their latest white paper from the Innosight Institute.  Creating a definition that illustrates something that is not clearly known by those not in the field is a challenging task.  As I have shared in various presentations, it is critical for us to define blended learning so that we know what it looks like so we can study it and we can teach others.  This new iteration of the definition is getting closer to the essence of blended learning. I have bolded and changed the color of the parts of the definition that changed from the definition a year ago (also listed below):

Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.  (Horn & Staker, 2012)

The previous definition was:

Blended learning is any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick and mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.  (Horn & Staker, 2010)

Their new report illustrates why the definition was changed: to “distinguish blended learning from informal online learning such as playing educational video games” and to “distinguish online learning from using only Internet tools.”  I think there are other reasons adding in the terms “formal education” and “online delivery of content and instruction” are important because it suggests that for blended learning to be effective, it needs someone to guide the education or put together the content or provide some type of instruction…and that “someone” is a teacher.  The type of blended learning that most would agree is effective is one that includes an effective teacher.  Yes, students can learn through computer assisted programs (such as Plato or Education 2020 or Apex Learning and others), but for these programs to be effective, there is almost always a teacher or other educator encouraging and motivating the student.  And, Yes, Horn and Staker explain that their purpose is to define blended learning and that there can be “good and bad” blended learning, just like there is good and bad face-to-face teaching.

Horn and Staker in this report explain that this definition is from the student perspective.  After I read that, I thought, “Ok, so what would the definition of blended teaching and learning be from the teacher perspective?”  Based on studying the variety of definitions of blended learning, reading the iNacol report about quality online course standards, and working to illustrate exactly what “blended learning” looks like (see illustration below), I have taken a stab at defining blended learning from the teacher perspective.

Blended Learning Continuum Illustrated








Here is what I believe the definition of “blended teaching and learning” is from the teacher perspective:

Blended Learning is a pedagogical approach facilitated by a teacher where students have some control over their learning; and the teacher seamlessly incorporates the use of online learning tools (e.g. discussion boards, online collaboration, blogs, etc.), technology tools (computers, digital white boards, cameras, etc.), and face-to-face instruction so that instruction and learning can be accessed at any time by the student through multiple electronic devices.  (Darrow, 2012)

Tomorrow…a discussion of the updated models of blended learning.

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