2. Blended learning isn’t the same in every classroom
The personality of each teacher and their comfort level with technology will dictate how they implement blended learning. Before I started blending, I felt like my use of online activities in my classroom was sporadic and ineffective, even though I have a background as a computer engineer. I wanted to use more technology in my classroom, but I didn’t know how to incorporate it into the rigid structure of my class. I knew that I wanted to put the learning back into my students’ hands and have more time for exploratory- and inquiry-based learning. Blended learning is about finding the best fit for technology for you and your students while highlighting the great work you already do.
3. Blended learning isn’t going to replace the teacher
The goal of blended learning is to streamline the learning process. Through different instructional strategies, the hope is to optimize the teacher’s role. Many teachers will say that the most authentic classroom experiences come from either one-on-one conversations with students or small-group instruction. Before I received coaching from the Highlander Institute, I was spending most of my time in front of the class teaching, which severely limited my ability to see individual students. After reconsidering my role and delivering most of my instruction through self-made video, I redefined my role as a teacher from lecturer to facilitator. Rather than repeating the same lesson five to six times a day at the front of the class, I now spend my days analyzing formative assessments, identifying misconceptions, and finding ways to extend student learning. Blended learning will not replace the teacher with technology; it creates room for more authentic instruction for our students.
4. Blended learning isn’t just for schools with one-to-one initiatives
When I started my blended learning journey at the beginning of last school year, I was fortunate to be a part of a one-to-one initiative that put a device in the hands of every one of my students. Unfortunately, not every district has the resources to make this a reality. Luckily, there are several blended learning models, including station rotation, that help optimize the use of technology in small groups while providing structure for offline activities and small-group instruction.
[Editor’s Note: See previous Blending My Practice columns here.]