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Monday, September 29, 2014

Blended Learning

       Have you been hearing all the talk about this "new instructional method" called "Blended Learning"?  What about being asked all the time "have you flipped" your class?  Have you been told you will do this by your school administration, but nobody has explained to you how to do it?

       I've seen both experienced and new teachers both get the "OMG I'm going to blow if they tell me I need to learn one more new technology tool on my own. Grrrrrrr"  Usually accompanied by other not so scholarly words. 

         You will find many different definitions of what "blended learning" is if you Google it.  I like the definition that I found in the Edutpoia article"Blended Learning: We Are All New Teachers". It cites that there are many definitions of blended learning to be sure, but for our purposes let's take the definition of blended learning from Innosight Institute which defines blended learning as: 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. The institute even goes on to say: there are four models of blended learning that categorize the majority of blended-learning programs emerging across the K-12 sector today. These four models are: Rotation, Flex, Self-Blend, and Enriched Virtual. (Not a perfect definition by any means, but one that gives us food for thought.)

       Wow, what a mouthful and a lot to digest and think about! Don't panic, essentially what they are saying is that the teacher and student uses multiple methods to deliver the education. Some by online, some by face to face, some by independent research, some of the pace of delivery is set by the teacher or school, and some is set by the student. Essentially it means you use technology to help meet all of your students learning needs.  It's just a more technology based version of "doing whatever it takes" to teach your students.

       In all of my research I yet to find anything better than Math Johnston's "What a Flipped classroom is not" that you can find on his YouTube channel. He explains this concept is easy to understand terms for you, students, parents, and administrators.

      The trick to successfully blending your class so that you "FLIP not FLOP" it is to find what works best for YOU and YOUR students.  There is no one way to do it or just one magic tool that works for everyone. Don't be afraid to try new things. Do NOT think that you have to use "experts videos" because they know more than you do.  Believe it or not, your students actually pay more attention and learn more from your "unprofessional" videos. 

        Also, you do NOT have to be the expert on the tools, you are already the expert on your content area. Have fun and allow your student to try new things. We learn more from fail at the first time, than what we get right the first time.  Just tell them up front "We are doing this unit over XYZ.  You will be excepted create XYZ, refer to the rubric I have given you. you will be allowed to use whatever tool you want to create it, just show it to me and explain why you want to use it.  But be forewarned I am not an expert in that tool and you will now become the class expert on it".  

      I promise you the time to spend to blend or flip your class will come back to you 5 fold at least.  I blended/flipped my classes over 10 years ago before there was an official term to call it.  I did it so I could best serve my students, after all there are 20-30 of them and only one of me.  With my instructional websites and videos, the students are able to get help with a step when they need it and work at his/her own pace. Kids love it, administration love it, parents love it, I love it because I never have to explain what it is that were are doing or learning in my class.  It's right there for everyone to see. 

      Feel free to borrow any of my units or lessons. I purposely made everything public for you to use.  :)  Let me know if they help you and have FUN blending/flipping your class.  

My Some Cool Web 2.0 Tools Blog
My Going Green Project Based Learning Site from the CTE Summer 2014 Conf.

Work Cited:
  • Website Title: YouTube
  • Article Title: mathjohnson
  • Publisher: YouTube
  • Date Accessed: September 29, 2014
Website Title: Edutopia
  • Article Title: Blended Learning: We Are All New Teachers
  • Date Accessed: September 29, 2014