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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.


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 teachers talk about blended teaching #ce14

Earlier this week, a group of teachers shared their insights about blended learning as part of he blended learning strand for Connected Educator Month. The recording is here and the slide deck is here. All of the blended learning strand archives for CEM can be found here. Register here or here for the final two webinars dealing with administrative and support systems in blended learning programs.

Panel members included the following:

Each of the panel members shared important insights regarding blended learning. Haley Hart shared this slide that really characterizes how a teacher teaches in a blended learning program.

Slide2 The important aspects of this graphic show that blended learning teachers use a course management system with 1-to1 technology devices and use student data on a daily basis to inform instruction and customize learning for each student. A majority of the content is online.

Meghan Jacquot shared that at the SF Flex Academy, teachers and students work together to identify what students need to learn. Student curriculum changes on a weekly basis depending on what students have accomplished the previous week. The teachers wait to look at the student data and then prepare the curriculum based on the needs of the students. Overall, the teacher became more of an academic coach.

At the PASE Academy in Southeastern High School, Haley Hart became part of the implementation of blended learning. The academy allows students to move at their own pace. With students on computers on a daily basis, this allows students to provide data to the teacher on a daily basis and are not governed by a bell. Students identify how much time they will spend each day on different subjects, so a student might do English all day on Monday, but science all day on Tuesday. Overall, the student takes on more control of their learning. Here is what their open space looks like at PASE Academy which includes a large room and smaller conference rooms.


Jeff Gerlach at Michigan Virtual University who taught in a blended learning 7th grade social studies class, shared how blended learning is really a journey. He shared how a blended learning classroom provides greater feedback to students because of technologies used like Google docs or WordPress. With the technology, it is much easier to collect rich data from students and better inform teaching. Jeff wrote about his experience here.

Brian Thornley who teachers Algebra II discovered that with blended learning, almost everything can be taught via online resources. The data allows him to know where students are struggling and can then focus on those areas to better address student needs. Students at his school, if they are doing well in the blended learning Algebra II course, they can then focus on other things. He admitted that becoming a blended teacher caused him to have to give up some of the control to students. But, he realized how students taking more control of their learning caused him to focus on other things. Overall, he has found that students in his blended learning classroom are learning other important skills such as time management and technology use as it is applied to learning.

Dr. Lesley Farmer who teaches in a blended environment at the college level shared some important data that has come from research by Educause and the 2011 ECAR Report that provided important information about what makes an effective blended learning environment. Blended environments at every level cause students to take more responsibility for their learning, provide deeper learning, and more optimal use of time. The Educause reported that three factors caused student success in a blended environment:

  • The strongest predictors of how students rate their institution in its use of technology
  • –their instructors’ effective use of technology
  • –their instructors’ use of technology frequently enough
  • –the seamless integration of technology into their courses
  • These three predictors alone accounted for approximately 54% of the variance in students’ perceptions of their institution’s effectiveness in using technology.

The image below shows how these factors provide academic benefit by 1) Giving students access to resources and progress reports online; 2) Making students more efficient in their work; 3) Facilitating connections with others; and 4) Making learning more engaging and relevant.


#ce14 #blendedlearning strand continues – Are you connected?

Have you participated in some part of Connected Educator Month? If not, you should. It’s a great opportunity for all types of educators (teachers, parents, future teachers, administrators, thought leaders) to participate in all of October events. You can be part of a tweet up, listen into a webinar, post in a discussion board or read a blog. All relate to education and how connecting like this models how we can connect to our students and ultimately, improve student engagement and achievement. Check out the CEM Calendar of Events. At least sign up to receive the CEM newsletter [right side of the page]. The Connected Educator Blog provides opportunities to connect with others such as this blogpost about how to start a blog. The other day, I joined in a Tweet Up that included Secretary for Education Arne Duncan.

The Blended Learning Strand for Connected Educator Month continues.


The ongoing activities can be found here and here.

The first week, our panel better defined “blended learning.” Listen to the recording here or view the slides.

The second week, our expert panel of teachers shared how blended learning looks in a classroom. Here is the recording and the slides.

Next up will be the administrative perspective. Register to join the webinar here.

Ongoing activities include a discussion board at Linked In and the ongoing Twitter activity with the hashtag #blendedlearning.

Overall, lead, participate or contribute to the Connected Educator Month blended learning strand:

  • Panel Discussion Webinar (Mondays – 7:00 EST / 4:00 PST) – Registration and Recordings below
  • Discussion Board Weekly Conversations – Join here via Linked In (All week) – Contribute to the discussion
  • Tweet Up as a follow up to the panel discussion – (#ce14 #blendedlearning) (Tuesday – 8-9pm EST / 4:00-5:00 PST) – Tweet Up Page here
  • Weekly blogpost – posted each week in response to the discussion topic. – Create your own blogpost and tag it #ce14 #blendedlearning 
  • Pinterest Board - See the list and add your own.

#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.


Find detailed continuum information here.

Clarifying what is #blendedlearning #ce14

The first blended learning connected educator webinar occurred last night. You can listen to the recording via Blackboard Collaborate by clicking on this link. And the slide deck is here.

The first part of the webinar focused on the definition of blended learning.


Christensen Institute Senior Research Fellow Heather Staker was one of the people who developed the first definition of blended learning and continues to be involved in how the definition has evolved. Heather shared that originally, she and her team visited 40 schools or organizations who were involved in blended learning and then developed the definition to include all the schools. She shared that they wrote a definition that is “normative” which would describe blended learning but not necessarily describe what is high quality blended learning. She went on to explain the definition really identifies three areas: first, blended learning is online and students have some control of their path and pace, in both brick-and-mortar and at home, and student modalities are integrated together within the curriculum. She pointed out that the first part of the definition makes it clear that you cannot have a blended learning classroom that does not do some instruction online. They distinguished between full time online courses and blended learning by adding in the phrase “in both brick-and-mortar and at home”. Then she shared how in some schools, students would go to a computer lab and play “math blaster” and then go back to class and work in a math textbook and the computer lab time and the classroom math time were not connected. This was when the final section of the definition was added that “modalities along each student’s path within a course are integrated…” The assembled panel suggested that the definition may change again when the technologies allow more seamless access to networks and technologies that easily deliver real time student data to teachers via a digital dashboard type system.


Heather also clarified the difference between a technology-rich classroom and a blended learning classroom. She shared that “the number one mistake the field makes when talking blended learning is to conflate all instruction that involves digital aspects that any classroom that uses online technologies is blended when in fact that is not the case.” She went on to explain that there has been an incredible amount of money spent on technology in schools over the years with little impact on instruction. Blended learning does impact learning in a much different way than simply a technology rich classroom. Blended learning allows teachers to do more with less which is the way of the future for all schools. She went on to talk about the real promise of blended learning, which comes down to the the “how” and the “why.” One of the main benefits of blended is to personalize and tailor instruction for each student. The “how” of blended learning is how it allows personalized learning at scale, while the “why” is that personalized learning piece and how blended learning can meet each student’s needs just in time.

Allison Powell from iNACOL, who was also a part of the panel, shared that she is hearing a lot of confusion in the field with lots of buzz words such as “blended learning”, “personalized learning”, “competency based learning” and people are starting to use them to mean the same thing when they are not. The Christensen Institute has provided information regarding the definition and models of blended learning. iNACOL has provided a document entitled “Mean What You Say…” that discusses the meaning of personalized learning as well as a document entitled “Re-engineering Information Technology: Design Considerations for Competency Education.”

Overall, listening to the first part of this webinar will provide important information and definitions about what blended learning really is. Take about 20 minutes to listen in when you can.

Join us for the Tuesday night Tweet Ups about blended learning at 8:00 EST / 5:00 PST with the hashtags #ce14 and #blendedlearning. All blended learning strand information for the month of October can be found 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.


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.

Connected Educator Month #BlendedLearning: Participate, contribute and lead! #ce14

I am facilitating the Blended Learning Strand for the CUE Organization for Connected Educator’s Month. (#ce14 #blendedlearning)

I hope you will participate, contribute and lead! See the variety of ways you can do this below or linked here.

Participate, Contribute and Lead Activities:

  • Panel Discussion Webinar (Mondays – see topics below) – Looking for panel members
  • Discussion Board Weekly Conversations – Join here via Linked In (All week) – Need discussion board leader
  • Tweet Up as a follow up to the panel discussion – (#ce14 #blendedlearning) (Tuesday from 7:00pm-8:00 EST) – Need Tweet Up leader
  • Weekly blogpost – posted each week in response to the discussion topic. – Create your own blogpost and tag it #ce14 #blendedlearning 
  • Participants and Reflectors – Need people to participate and then provide reflections on October 27
  • Pinterest Board - Help update the board.

Weekly Panel Discussions

Webinar: Oct. 6, 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 1: What is Blended Learning and What are the Best Implementation Strategies?

Webinar: Oct. 13. 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 2: Blended Learning and Teaching. What does it take to be an effective blended teacher?

  • Registration is free, but please register
  • What does it really mean to be a blended learning teacher? This webinar will feature teachers who have transformed into blended learning. They will share best practices regarding classroom management, personalizing learning for every student, ongoing data driven curriculum decision making, and the pedagogy required for a blended learning classroom. Also included will be the types of ongoing support that is needed to be successful in a blended learning classroom.

Webinar: Oct. 20. 7:00-8:30pm EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 3: Blended Learning and Leadership. What are the best ways for administrators to support blended learning?

  • Registration is free, but please register
  • This webinar and panel discussion will bring together administrative and teacher leaders who have implemented blended learning in their schools. Various topics for successful implementation including professional development, ongoing support, and structures for support will be shared. Whether you are thinking about blended learning, in your first year of blended learning or a blended learning school, join this webinar to learn and share important leadership principles to sustain and maintain your program.
  • Panel: Blended Learning Leaders, Administrators and Support Teachers

Webinar: Oct. 27. 7:00-8:30 EST / 4:00-5:30 PST.
Blended Learning Panel 4: Reflections and Insights about Blended Learning. 

  • Registration is Free, but please register.
  •  The purpose of this webinar is for participants to share their insights and reflections about blended learning. In particular, reflecting on any of the activities from the Connected Educator Month blended learning strand. Whether you viewed a webinar recording, saw a Tweet, or participated in the discussion forum, join this webinar to share your reflections and insights.

 * Join the Blended Teacher Network – It’s Free! *

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