Teachers: These are the 6 must-know strategies for great blended learning

Teachers value today’s classroom digital resources, but students might not be as comfortable using technology as parents and educators believe, according to a new report about successful blended learning strategies.

The report, Teaching with Technology, a new report from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning (FBOL) and the Evergreen Education Group, characterizes blended teaching as using a combination of face-to-face instruction and digital content, tools, and resources.

A survey of teachers from 38 states finds that time, thoughtful planning and support at the school- and district-level, and ongoing relevant professional development are key to the success or stagnation of their blended learning efforts.

Teachers are incorporating new technology tools and strategies into their classroom practice, and despite their different approaches, and blended learning plays a large role in teachers’ approaches.

The report draws insight from educators teaching in traditional public schools, charter public schools, alternative education programs, and private schools, as well as in-depth interviews with teachers and administrators across the country, and school and classroom observations by its authors.

Nearly all respondents (97 percent) said they are using computers in their teaching, and between 64 and 66 percent of respondents report that they are using each of four types of resources and strategies: student creation of documents, student collaboration, free online resources, and online resources purchased by the school or district. This finding demonstrates that use of open educational resources and purchased resources is not either/or, but that in some cases teachers are using both free and purchased materials.

About 60 percent of respondents said they regularly use formative assessments (61 percent) and/or differentiated instruction (58 percent).

The report offers a number of major takeaways and recommendations, based on teachers’ responses:

1. For teachers to be successful in their use of technology, the devices, internet access, online content, and software must work well and consistently. Some teachers report that they have two versions of their lesson plans—one for using computers and one for paper when internet access fails—but clearly it is not reasonable to expect most teachers to take on that level of planning. Although many schools are using computer labs or carts, teachers who are further along in implementing technology express frustration at not having better and easier access to computers.