Archive for the 'Blended Learning' Category

Tips for Administrative Support and Leadership for #Blendedlearning Implementation #ce14

As part of the blended learning strand for Connected Educator Month, a unique panel of experts provided recommendations for leadership and the implementation of blended learning programs in a recent webinar. The Recording and Slide Deck from this webinar and other CEM blended learning strand activities can be found here.

Slide1

First, Anna Gu from the Christensen Institute shared the important conversation she and Michael Horn had with California superintendents about barriers encountered by superintendents who want to implement blended learning. They then produced the document, “Knocking Down Barriers: California Superintendents and Blended Learning.”  In Fall 2013, the Christensen Institute convened a group of superintendents to talk about how to overcome hurdles that inhibit the implementation of blended learning. The conversation fell into two categories: how to redesign teacher roles and how to manage the technology infrastructure. The leadership in the area of redesigning teacher roles requires administrators to deal with teacher contract issues and overall, have open ongoing conversations with teachers about their changing roles and how that may impact the teacher. One other area that schools may find barriers is the use of curriculum materials in both print and digital format. There are “perceived barriers” that keep leaders and teachers from moving forward toward blended learning goals. Identifying these “perceived barriers” and talking about these are important for the implementation of blended learning goals.

Brian Bridges from California shared the importance of longitudinal data and ongoing surveys of schools to understand how blended learning is being used. He oversaw the collection of data from California schools about blended and online learning called the eLearning census. The questions asked are an important guide for other districts and schools to consider as they gather further information about blended and online learning. Over three years, the eLearning Census in California provided some important data to show the increase in use of blended learning. Some of the other important insights provided from the surveys indicated the importance of planning ahead with input from more stakeholders regarding the blended learning implementation and provide more ongoing professional development From a leadership perspective, ongoing data and surveying of stakeholders helps to provide important information and survey metrics that can inform implementation. One of the initiatives in California under the leadership of Brian is the eLearning Strategies Symposium which will take place December 12 and 13, 2014 in San Mateo, Ca. All are invited to attend.

Anne Pasco from Huntley High School in Huntley Illinois shared how their high school implemented blended learning three years ago. At the leadership of the superintendent, the district decided it was important to have a school of choice. They started small with 3 teachers in the first year, with students taking the blended course in the first or last period of the day. The program has now grown to one-third of their school and students can take a blended class at any period during the day. When students do not have to attend their classroom, students can go to stay in commons area of the school, the learning resource center or leave campus. Common assessments in all of the subjects have shown that students do equally well in the blended and the traditional classrooms. Student surveys show that they take more responsibility for their own learning and they like that. Overall, leadership and teacher support systems have grown in a variety of ways including a better understanding for counselors in conversations with students. Students may take either a traditional or blended learning class in this traditional high school.

Travis Phelps works at St. Justin Catholic School in Santa Clara, Ca as part of the Drexel Initiative in the Catholic Diocese of San Jose. The blended learning implementation has taken place at the 8th grade level. The important aspect of blended learning is to start small and build. Overall, he shared the importance of having teachers who are flexible in teaching and with the use of technology. He and other teachers have participated in blended teacher training provided by the University of Santa Clara. He also mentioned the importance of having a supportive principal in implementing blended learning. In addition, he talked about one metric to use regarding teacher implementation is the SAMR model, which is a metric that can be used with teachers to help them understand their implementation level and direction they are heading.

Overall, the important leadership principles shared by the panelists for implementing blended learning included:

  • Start small and build
  • Get input from a variety of stakeholders as the implementation begins and continues
  • Provide a culture of innovation and empowerment support systems for teachers
  • Provide a reliable technology infrastructure
  • Have ongoing feedback from stakeholders in the form of surveys indicating amount of use and student surveys about their learning
  • Identify variety of ongoing metrics by which to measure progress of blended learning implementation

#BlendedLearning Continuum and Rocketship Si Se Puede

I am gradually writing about California schools I have visited in the past year and applying the “From Textbook Enhanced to Online Teaching and Learning Continuum” to each school in an effort to better clarify what blended learning looks like. I wrote about the list of schools here.

School: Rocketship, Si Se Puede Academy (K-5, Charter, San Jose, Ca. Opened in 2009. 658 students).

  • Students attend all day
  • Blended Learning Models: Rotation and Flex.
  • Spending per student: $8,382 (according to School Report Card)

Rocketship Charter schools have been the trail blazers in the use of blended learning. I had heard about Rocketship schools for years and was pleased to be able to visit. Upon walking into the school, the first thing that becomes evident is that there is a strong culture in the school, very much focused on learning. Students wear uniforms to school and appeared engaged in learning in the classrooms I visited including the computer lab. Teachers were passionate, enthusiastic, and systematic in delivering instruction to students.

Computer Use/Blended Learning: Students in grades 1-3 participate in a rotation station model of blended learning in that they rotate into a computer lab each day, specifically for use of math and reading software programs. Grades 4 and 5 were in one large room that included computers and several teachers and instructional aides. As of the 2014-15 school year, Rocketship switched back to a computer rotation model for grades 4 and 5.

Blended Learning Continuum: Based on the “From Textbook to Online Teaching and Learning Continuum”, Rocketship Si Se Puede is primarily a “Web Enhanced” School. This school could move to the blended learning column by employing a learning management system such as Edmodo or Moodle and more of the teacher instruction was viewable via the Web (e.g. online newsletters, teacher videos, etc.). It is possible this school does employ these types of strategies, but they were not visible during the visit.

RocketshipContinuum2

Find detailed continuum information here.

Comparing the SAMR Model and #BlendedLearning

About six months ago a friend of mine mentioned the importance of the SAMR model as it applies to the use of technology in education today. Because he shared that, it caused me to stop in to a session at ISTE 2014 where the speakers were talking about the SAMR model as applied to coaching teachers. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the session, the doors were closed. Thankfully, the session was broadcasted to a screen outside the door and the speakers used Today’s Meet as a back channel to post various links about the session which included a discussion of the SAMR model (and a link to the session slides). The back channel proved to be more useful in discussing the SAMR model.

The SAMR Model was designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura who is the founder of Hippasus, an educational consulting firm specializing in transformation applications. Ruben had previously been a teaching fellow at Harvard. For more detailed information about the SAMR model, here is a website and a video.

Here is a diagram of the SAMR Model.

samr-model-graphic

And here is the “From Textbook Enhanced to Online Teaching and Learning” continuum:

Blended Learning Continuum Illustrated

In the SAMR model, Substitution and Augmentation are enhancement stages in the use of technology, while Modification and Redefinition are transformation stages. This is the same in the world of blended learning as I think the continuum illustrates. Textbook enhanced and technology enhanced teaching and learning fit the enhancement stages of the SAMR model, while the web/online enhanced teaching and learning is  the beginning of the transition from enhancement to transformation, and blended and online learning most closely align with the transformation station.

With that being said, there are online learning and blended learning courses that simply enhance the teaching and learning and do not truly transform teaching and learning. It is in this transformation stage when teaching and learning becomes more student centered, teachers better use data to customize student learning, and students become more engaged in their learning. This occurs best through the use of technology in the transformation stages of the SAMR model and in the blended learning section of the continuum.

The challenge of measuring #blendedlearning schools

In my post last week, I shared that I have visited a variety of schools around California and I was going to identify where they fit on the “Continuum from Textbook to Online Teaching and Learning.” I will eventually dedicate a blogpost to each school and their place on the continuum. But, first I wanted to just list the basics of each school so you can get an idea of the variables involved in determining where a school fits on a continuum from an outsider’s perspective. Categorizing where a teacher or school fits in blended learning can be challenging for a variety of reasons. In May 2011, the Christensen Institute profiled 40 schools that fit a general definition of blended learning. Since then, other organizations have written case studies about various programs. The field continues to better define what is meant by the term blended learning. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, applying the continuum to various schools will help to better define blended learning for you and your schools.

As you look through the basic information of the schools below, note the similarities and differences. What do you notice?

In the weeks ahead, I will apply the continuum to each school.

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.

 

 


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