Blended Learning in the Classroom
All of those apps on your phone and computer are personalized to you to collaborate with the world every day. Wouldn't it be great to leverage this technology and innovation in our schools?
We can with Blended Learning.
Learning and Knowledge is the ability to apply content into real life.
Blended Learning makes learning an active experience not passive.
There are many formal definitions of Blended Learning, if you ask Google. Yes, we need a definition so we can agree to a set level. More importantly, here is what Blended Learning DOES: This is from real world, day-to-day in-classroom situations which I have seen in our schools across the country. To setup a classroom of today like my generation had, (same for the past 100 years) is a disservice to the teachers, students, and parents. Learning is held at the pace of the AVERAGE of 30 students, Watching a student walk into a Blended Learning classroom that does not have 30 desks facing toward the front, they begin to take interest. They want to participate. They find out they will be rotating around the room to different methods of learning (digital, teacher lesson, independent, 4Cs) they become engaged and focused thus having a much richer experience of learning that results in a deeper understanding of the material. It is a very rewarding scene to see small groups of students collaborating with peers on the curriculum. This also allows the teacher to work with small groups of students which he can give personalized attention.
We have had students and teachers both come up to us after weeks and months of working with them and tell us 'thanks'. At the beginning, teachers can feel overwhelmed after many years of performing their instruction the exact same way. Once they commit to making a difference in the students lives, combined with data that shows improved results, they see the benefit...and they want more!
We have had parents email us to tell us "I don't know what you did in my child's classroom but thank you. This is the first time they have come home truly excited about school".
Coming Next - Teachers and Data
Improving Technology in the Classroom
Half way through my career I was fortunate enough to be able to change industries from I.T. to education. So now, with technology playing such a large role in the classroom, I'm excited to share my 20+ years of experience and real world knowledge with our schools. I've been asked to explain the day-to-day life of an I.T. professional to classrooms, work with classroom setups to be effective with collaboration, as well as teach coding, including code.org at stations during our workshops and conferences. Working with our certified teachers, including Marcia Kish, we are very passionate about moving school rooms and teachers into the 21st century. It truly has been an eye-opening ride working with all the different personalities, technologies, and mindsets as we have traveled across the country. A 21st century classroom is a collaborative environment where learners can develop real-world skills with teachers as the facilitator. More importantly, the classroom of today is NOT focused on technology or the teacher... it is learner centered. The teacher facilitates with the learner to determine the most effective method of their day-to-day education as well as the most effective pace to ensure understanding of the material. In a software development business environment, this is very similar to an agile methodology where management gives freedom to the product owner and the team members to produce results facilitated by the Scrum Master. (An information technology facilitator in a business environment that studies and understands what makes the team thrive to produce the highest results.)
Documenting this journey will add value by way of ideas, technology, and experience from what we see and do inside schools across the country. At the top of one of the most widely seen issues right now is the fact that although schools have installed technology throughout the 2000's, they are struggling how to use it effectively. It's amazing to work with teachers for the first time to develop their curriculum in this environment in a productive and engaging manner. A quote I remember from one of our teachers of 30 years after working with her: "I have not been fair to my students... I want to go back and do it all over again!"
There is an amazing interest in creating applications for the classroom. These apps are being created daily. Check out Quiver (very cool). Yes, with SO MANY apps and tools available, it can be overwhelming for teachers and coaches to have the time to sift through it all. That's our job. Going into schools across the country and working with teachers one-on-one, we are able to see what works and what's new. Technology allows the learner to go 'outside the classroom'. They love it. Our experience has proven that including technology in the classroom, the proper way, both broadens and deepens that learning which keeps the learner engaged much longer and thus more likely to retain that information.
Please share thoughts, tools, and experiences.
We all take a part to improve education in America.
Jeff Kish - I.T. person determined to help deliver technology into the classroom.