Welcome! In this time of Coronavirus challenges I want the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, and questions that I hope are helpful to all of those amazing educators that are doing so much for our students. While I know I may fall short in some ways, I do hope everyone can discover at least one idea that might help their school, parents and students as they take on this new challenge (opportunity) in learning. Please feel free to contact me via email (email@example.com) or Twitter at (@mjgormans). If anything, I have learned from experience and if I can help you at this time… please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to join you and your staff in a Web Meeting. I do hope you read, and please share with others through email and Tweets. It lets me know that I might be making a small difference. – Mike
In this series I would like to take the time to share some eLearning and Blended Learning ideas and pose some questions as schools have finished another school session and begin to look at the next year. Some of the ideas I would like to bring out in this series include:
- Managing devices from school year end to start
- Data collection for planning
- Read the article or watch the webinar (future)
- PD for the next level of eLearning in a district
- Planning Blended Learning for another year
- Short term and long term goals for Blended Learning
Please feel free to review these prior posts that have links. If you have contributions to make or ideas to supply please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a tweet at mjgormans . I am trying to build even more ideas to share with everyone! Let’s continue this series by looking at PD for your next level of eLearning which should include blended learning in your district. I hope the information is helpful to you!
Coronavirus eLearning Series… Ideas To Think About Now… Before Next Year: Idea 4…Planning Blended Learning For Another Year
It seems by now that those districts fortunate enough to have devices both in schools and also in student homes have had a good dose of eLearning. In fact, there was little time or way to really blend the learning for many of us.
For those that are just getting into online learning, it is necessary to understand some of the terms used in this new digital era of education. The concept of eLearning really brings out the idea of learning online. It may have had its beginning with the idea of distance learning. Students learned from a teacher that was not in the same classroom. It could be that the students were at home, or even they were at school with the teacher in a different physical location. This was common in schools that did not have an in house teacher for certain subjects. It was also used in in the post K12 learning environment.
The idea of eLearning progressed and soon incorporated the Learning Management System (LMS). This allowed the teacher to provide both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for learning. It also allowed for content storage, communication, and exchange. At the start, the LMS was basically a two way street of teacher presenting and the student providing some type of response with eventual teacher feedback. As the LMS developed more, opportunities were included allowing a richer learning experience including discussions, video, audio, white boards, and conference rooms. It was, and still is, important to use all of the capabilities of the LMS together to optimize learning. In fact, many educators have added to the LMS utilizing outside approved apps in order to provide a deep learning experience for students online. I discussed these features, and professional development needed to support, in the prior post and in this webinar. Please feel free to take a look.
The idea of Blended Learning incorporates the best of the the eLearning experience by blending the technology, both in and out of the physical classroom. It also utilizes the important methods and processes used in the physical classroom. You could call it the very best of both learning worlds. After all, great learning has always happened in that classroom promoting effective pedagogy. At the same time, the digital opportunities both in and outside of the physical walls open up a whole new world of connections beyond the classroom and amplify the learning. If a digital task works great in eLearning away from school, why not do it in the physical classroom?
As we all enter a new school year, the idea of Blended Learning may become necessary in those classrooms that need to incorporate social distancing. The technology may provide a solution that allows the continuation of activities that promote deeper learning. An example might include the collaborative activity Chalk Talk. This task requires students to huddle in a group and write ideas on a large sheet of paper. Could this instead be done in a Zoom Room with a shared Google Document? Such a process can be done both in and out of the classroom.
In a Blended Learning Environment the physical and digital classroom become integrated. The lines actually begin to blur and it does not matter where the student and teacher are. It allows for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, individualization, differentiation, small group teaching and learning, self regulated learning, formative and summative assessment, and connections to outside people and resources. Learning becomes more exciting in the classroom and carries over when students leave for a different learning space.
You may ask why this is so important during a time of social distancing in the classroom. Blended Learning allows the physical school day to be interrupted by sickness, unusual scheduling of days, and weather. As students and teachers incorporate this idea of Blended Learning, the mission of education continues and provides continuity. Learning at all depths continues and rigor prevails. Students are provided more ownership of their learning and engagement increases with the online experience going beyond just an student/teacher exchange of information. In the physical classroom collaboration to promote critical thinking, communication, and creativity is still possible through the use of technology.
Blended Learning provides wonderful opportunities to engage learners. As schools look at this process there are several question we must consider finding answers to.
- Is there an understanding of both e-Learning and Blended Learning by educators?
- Has PD been provided to assist teachers as they step through e-Learning and Blended Learning?
- Can the district PD for teachers model a Blended Learning experience?
- What are all the capabilities of the district LMS?
- What other tools are needed to compliment the LMS?
- What tools does the district already have in regards to media and curriculum to assist with Blended learning?
- Are students being provided a time to practice with tools so that the blend will extend to home?
- What online resources, both paid and free, are being provided for teachers to blend the learning?
- What experts already exist in the district to assist in promoting a Blended Learning experience?
- What steps must be taken to assist teachers as they incorporate a Blended Learning experience to promote deeper learning, 4C’s, and higher level thinking?
I hope you can see that the idea of blending the learning experience is even more important today then it ever has been. The challenges we are faced with also give us the wonderful opportunity to incorporate technology to promote a learning experience that is engaging and authentic for students anywhere and anytime! Please take a moment to enjoy and learn from the resources below.
SAMR -Many teachers have studied the SAMR Model. I like Kathy Schrock’s Guide to SAMR because it explains the model and also provides some useful ideas of how it might work in the Blended Classroom and also integrated with Bloom.
Edutopia Blended Learning – This is always a great educational place to learn more. This page will provide some amazing articles and videos as you explore Blended Learning.
Blended Learning Universe – This is an especially good site because it presents different approaches to Blended Learning. Be sure to check out the various models and wonderful articles.
Flipped Learning – The idea of Flipped Learning is much more than making instructional videos for students to watch at home. At this site, you will examine how Flipped really does provide a blended experience promoting learning that is engaging while providing student ownership.
Thanks for joining me! Think of this new reality, as a pilot, and know that educators, students, and parents will make adjustments on this journey. Please feel free to contact me via email (email@example.com) or Twitter at (@mjgormans). If anything, I have learned from experience and if I can help you at this time… please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to join you and your staff in a Web Meeting. I do hope you read, and please share with others through email and Tweets. It lets me know that I might be making a small difference. It is important that we document the process so we can learn and plan from it. Thanks for joining me and please feel free to check with me on questions you might have involving lessons that I have learned. Best of all… remember that spring will be here soon! – Mike