“We have to think of students differently,” Brooks said—“as creators, researchers, investigators, and even designers.”
As blended learning programs grow in popularity, proponents of the approach—which involves a combination of computer-based learning and face-to-face instruction—say there are a few key considerations school leaders should keep in mind as they set up blended learning models.
Alabama’s Mountain Brook Schools is in its third year of a blended learning program.
“Education is really changing, and we’ve got to change with it—and in order to do that, we’ve really been working hard to … customize the learning of each one of our students,” said Missy Brooks, the district’s director of instruction, during a Consortium for School Networking webinar.
“Blended learning is not all about the technology—it really is a blend of technology and instruction, so that the two work hand-in-hand so that we can meet the needs of our students,” she said. The district’s leaders bear in mind that blended learning is facilitated by an effective and intentional combination of face-to-face classroom methods and computer-based activities.
For blended learning to be successful, Brooks said, teachers must be mindful of their intentions and should be purposeful about the work they design for students: They should be able to articulate exactly why they are using blended learning in a particular instance. And the more teachers come to know their students, the better they are able to tailor instruction to students’ needs and interests.