“I don’t think I’ll teach any differently this year. We just won’t use the Chromebooks in math class.”
—Me (at the beginning of the school year)
Last school year, our school started a one-to-one Chromebook initiative for the sixth grade. That meant our incoming seventh-graders would not only have Chromebooks, they would know how to use them!
What I thought would happen (aka delusions of grandeur):
1. All of our classroom-management problems would be solved because our students would be engaged with technology.
2. We could cancel our school’s future orders of copy paper and get rid of the copy machines, because we could put everything online.
3. Students would always do their work if it was online, because they always had access to a device.
4. Students would be adept with the technology because they used it the year before.
5. A one-to-one initiative wouldn’t change how I teach very much at all.
What actually happened (aka reality):
1. One-to-one initiatives have a lot of their own classroom-management problems. Luckily, a lot of these issues had been hammered out the year before, but the biggest issue was off-task behavior online. Additionally, just because students are doing work on the computer doesn’t mean that it is engaging or effective.
2. A lot of school work still needs to be done on paper. Depending on the grade level and subject, students can’t always work out their thinking only on a computer (i.e., math). Blended-learning classrooms often move seamlessly between online and offline activities, so don’t cancel those copier maintenance contracts yet.
3. Students don’t do their work for a lot more reasons than access and availability of technology.
4. Though my students used Chromebooks in the past, they still need support to understand how to best use the internet as a resource for learning.
5. The one-to-one initiative at my school completely changed the way that I teach. Blended learning has helped me become a more effective and efficient educator.
Tips for getting started on your blended journey
1. Enter with the right perspective.
The key word that people miss in blended Learning is “blended.” Technology will not replace the great work you already do in your classroom. It should reduce the mundane, repeatable tasks that bog down your class time. Technology helps us become better teachers by identifying needs instantaneously and reducing wait time for valuable academic feedback.