So I love the idea of blended learning. I love that students have the ability to navigate their own learning but still have access to a teacher and opportunity to collaborate with their peers. In EC&I 834, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that blended learning has multiple facets and models. A few of these models are discussed the following video:
Because blended learning is so vast, I know that I fall somewhere within the spectrum of blended learning as I utilize technology within my teaching for the purpose of enhancing the learning of my students. However, like Amy discusses in her blog this week, I’m not really sure what blended learning should look like as a specifically designed course in my middle years classroom. Beyond utilizing technology, I find it difficult to know how to create a fluid pathway of blended learning. How do I move between face to face and an online portion beyond what I’m already doing? How do I create a program that allows for individuality as well as collaboration? Is this all specified within the LMS I’m using? Lots. Of. Questions.
While I researched blended learning this week, I found that as with all things, there are companies who are invested in promoting and providing resources for blended learning. One company that specializes in math discusses how they assess students, build an individual, personalized program for the day, provide a daily list of what teachers and students need to do for the day, pump out the necessary lesson plans and online resources and then reassess and build a program for the next day. Parts of this sound ideal and parts sound robotic, but either way… think of all that work for one subject and it’s done by a computer!! How can I, as a lone human, create a blended system that works, think about that many elements, and not die in the process?
Thankfully, I came across an article by Fischer that stated:
Like the light bulb, building a successful blended-learning environment for students is a process of innovation, not an event.
To create and do something well, it will never begin perfectly, but begin it must. So based upon my professional judgment, knowledge and needs of my students, knowledge of the curriculum and understanding of my access and limitations with technology, I just need to make the best decisions at this point regarding blended learning and then change and innovate as I go … just like I always do. This is how I always teach – implementation, analysis and then reflection and change for improvement.
I came across a site that laid out a framework with different steps and considerations for designing and implementing blended learning. The colour palette graphic is clickable within the site and gives different questions/thoughts to consider for each step when designing a blended learning environment. In addition, there is a video and worksheet to give further guidance for educators for each step of the design process. I found elements of this process helpful as I think about how to navigate my own course prototype.
Ultimately, the needs of my students must drive my prototype design. I still have questions about how to merge face to face and the online component, but I know at some point I just have to make some decisions, jump in and try it and then make the necessary changes to make it better. This course prototype is not just an assignment or an event. It is real life learning. It is a process of innovation. It is not finished once it is implemented. It is just beginning – awaiting refinement. With this perspective, I feel a little more free to design my blended learning prototype.
How about you? How are you feeling about blended learning or your prototype?