7 ways to prepare incoming teachers for blended learning

4. Technology doesn’t automatically mean personalized.

Not all blended learning programs are created equal, emphasized Hudson, with some software still relying on antiquated assessment systems.

“One example of this is some gradebook software,” he explained. “The software monitors progress only in percentages and final grades, rather than measuring progress over time or qualitative feedback. Pre-service teachers should know that just because there’s tech doesn’t make it a great program.”

5. Ask yourself these 2 key questions:

A. In what ways do your students control when they learn (time of day), when they learn (pace), where they learn, and how they engage with their learning?

“Be thoughtful of student scheduling of other classes and extra-curriculars,” said Hudson. “Spending big chunks of time on one subject or activity is not always best for everyone.”

B. What happens in your classroom that students cannot get on the internet (or anywhere else)?

“An example of this is by teaching the quadratic equation: Why should a student have to sit in class to hear a lecture on the equation’s definition when they can watch a video on the explanation and use class time to discuss the equation with the teacher and practice the equation?” said Hudson.

6. Know the different blended learning models.

Technology skills can be learned over time, but it’s the mission of blended learning, as well as its forms, that will help incoming teachers the most, noted Hudson.

“Do you prefer a flipped classroom or an enriched-virtual? What kind of model does your school most often support? Does this model fit best for the goals of your students?” he said.

[Read “Four must-read blended learning models.” http://www.eschoolnews.com/2013/10/22/blended-learning-models-186/]

7. Focus on the principles and outcomes of learning, not the bells and whistles.

“Again, always keep in mind that blended learning is a means to an end, and it’s one of many mean to an end,” said Hudson. If the model isn’t working, or if it’s not reaching the school’s desired mission goals, it may be best to try another model of learning.

“Too often contemporary school reform efforts focus on various means: structures, scheduling, PD, curriculum, and instructional practices [such as cooperative learning, blended learning, iPads, et cetera],” concluded Hudson. “Certainly such reforms serve as the fuel for the school improvement engine, but they must not be mistaken as the destination, which is improved learning. Student needs as an individual must come first.”

Meris Stansbury

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