Friday, February 18, 2011

Blended Learning Could Hit or Miss

How do you define blended learning? Michael B. Horn and Heather Clayton Staker describe blended learning as “any time a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace.” What – did I read that right, “with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace?” Students in charge of their learning, is this possible?

Yes, but . . . if all we do is add some online learning into the current model of education and let students set their own pace will students receive any better education than they do now? Probably not. The current system was built around the factory system and the school year is shorter than many other countries. Students are measured in seat time and calendar years not on individual learning and mastery of concepts.

To help school districts incorporate blended learning models that leads to better outcomes for students let’s look at “six “district clusters” or models, of blended learning” from this article:
  1. Face-to-Face Driver – the teacher would use online learning on a case-by-case basis to supplement and/or for remediation.
  2. Rotation – students would rotate between online learning, one-to-one, self-paced and traditional face-to-face instruction.
  3. Flex – students learn mainly online with teachers providing on-site support as needed through tutoring or small group sessions.
  4. Online Lab – students use an online platform for the entire course within the school building while taking other traditional courses.
  5. Self-Blend – students take one or more online courses in addition to their traditional schooling.
  6. Online Driver – online courses with online teacher delivering all curricula and students not necessarily in a school building.
When blended learning works students receive a personalized pedagogy that allows for working at his/her own pace with more students begin successful. Blended learning provides the opportunity for schools to require fewer, more specialized teachers and would use building space more efficiently. With so many veteran teachers retiring and new teachers so tech savvy blended learning could solve staffing issues and close achievement gaps for many students.

Good blended learning “models should allow for innovation across curriculum, culture, teaching, intervention, professional development, and leadership development.” But there are still obstacles to overcome. One main obstacle is the “historically inhospitable” climate of public K-12 educational systems and their resistance to change. The report created by Michael B. Horn and Heather Clayton Staker outlines what needs to happen for blended learning to be successful:

  1. Integrated systems that support the seamless assimilation of online content from different sources.  Various LMS need to sync well with other LMS to provide online products to all students.
  2. High-quality, dynamic content aligned to state standards needs to be developed.
  3. Analytics – analyze student outcomes
  4. Automation
  5. Enhanced student motivation through applications that engage students in the learning process
In order for education technology companies to provide affordable, quality online content policy makers need to create a better framework for blended learning models that provides individualized learning for all students. If school districts are allowed to create new schools with more flexibility then transformation to a successful blended learning environment for all students could be achieved.

To read the entire article from eSchool News:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Personalize Learning with Online Tools

There are lots of ways that teachers differentiate learning and personalize learning for their students? How do you personalize learning in your classroom? Do you use any online tools?

Let’s look at a several fun, online tools that can be used in your classroom.
  1. Story Jumper -  Free
    • Build books from scratch or choose from one of the free templates.
  2. Story Bird -  Free
    • Collaborative storytelling where students can read a book, play them like games, or send them like greeting cards.
  3. Glogster -  Free
    • Teachers and students can create interactive posters to express their creativity or share knowledge and ideas.
To help you find other exciting ideas to personalize learning in your classroom take a look at “10 Technology Enhanced Alternatives to Book Reports”

If you’ve never checked out Sue LeBeau’s site I recommend that you browse through her "Tools for Teachers" at:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Educational Gadgets

Need some new ideas to motivate your students? There are lots of gadgets available for teachers to enhance the learning experience for all students. What’s a gadget? They are free, online tools that make teaching easier. Here's a list of several websites worth checking out for free gadgets:

Education World

Kathy Schrock’s Digital Gadgets

Online Web Gadgets

Let’s look at a few gadgets listed at Education World
  1. MotivatorStudents create a motivational-style poster or teachers can use the posters in handouts or multimedia presentations.  
  2. MindomoCollaborative mind mapping for projects, tutorials, problem solving or presentations
  3. Maps of War
    Interactive maps that can show several thousand years of history in about 90 seconds
Check out the Gadget Archive listed in Education World to find gadgets for your students.

There's an App for that

Does your school system allow you to use iPhones, iPads or iPods in your school? If so, then you may be interested in these apps that can be used in the learning process. The recent issue of eSchoolNews has provided a list of apps that can “automate current classroom processes or present new ways to learn.”

Free Apps
  1. Word Lens
    • Translates signage from one language to another through the camera applicatio
  2. Blackboard Molecules
    • Students can enroll into classes or organizations and download posted assignments from instructors
  3. Today in History
    • Features a list of notable events in history and important figures students can use for trivia quizzes or facts of the day
  4. Math Ref Free
    • This free version of Math Ref offers 600 formulas, figures, tips and examples that students can use as a formula study guide or to view graphs of different equations
Apps for a small fee
  1. P183 Graphing Calculator        Cost $0.99
    • Features more than 100 math functions and is a clone of the TI-83
    • Students can use as a calculator to input data and make graphs or matrices
  2. Star Walk                               Cost $2.99
    • Features an astral telescope for guided tours of the night sky or to find the location of astral objects
  3. Cram                                      Cost $3.99
    • Teachers and students can create flashcards for standardized tests, exams or study materials
  4. eCLicker                               Cost $9.99
    • Can be used in place of CPS, Activotes or Senteos in the classroom

How can you use iPhones, iPads and iPods in your classroom?  Or how can your students use these apps at home to help them learn and achieve?