Innovate to Educate Entry

Burr and Burton Academy

Neil Freebern, Director of Creative Arts

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

I have established what I refer to as a Heterogeneous Blended Learning Environment for many of my classes as well as within my department. Through the use of technology, we are able to offer multiple courses in the same room at the same time. As a result of this initiative, students have more flexibility to move at their own pace, our curricular offerings have been increased and we are able to differentiate instruction more effectively. Enrollment is no longer a concern. Courses that have only a few registered can still be experienced in our blended classrooms.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The greatest challenge with heterogeneous blended learning is creating methods to improve student's ability to self regulate within this new environment. Our system has forced students to learn how best to own their learning experiences and reflect on HOW they learn in addition to what they learn. We have modified our practice to embed more metacognitive experiences and have been actively researching principles of motivation in an effort to help students meet the challenges that they face in the classroom.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

In my opinion, establishing online systems to deliver course content, collect course work and provide multiple feedback methods is of the utmost of importance. Without careful attention to these components, learning experiences can easily get compromised. I outline these systems at freebernmusic.com.

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