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:
- Meghan Jacquot, English Teacher at Fusion Academy in California
- Haley Hart, Science Teacher at Southeastern High School PASE Academy / EAA in Michigan
- Jeff Gerlach, Instructional Designer / 7th Grade Teacher at Michigan Virtual University
- Brian Thornley, Algebra II Honors Teacher at Huntley High School in Illinois
- Dr. Lesley Farmer, Professor, Librarianship at CSU Long Beach, California
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.
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.