Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blended Learning Explained

Let’s start by saying that blended learning is not just another term for technology integration. Don’t get me wrong, integrating technology into instruction is wonderful! It increases engagement, allows for students to perform interesting and real-world tasks, and helps build 21st century skills- but it’s not blended learning. (For more on technology integration, see my post Starting with Technology Integration.)

Blended learning can best be described as a continuum.  Imagine traditional schools and classrooms on one end. All the way on the other end is virtual schools, where students complete all their learning at home online. Blended learning takes up the space in between those two learning models.

According to this great book I’m reading called Blended by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker, blended learning is a formal education program defined by three specific criteria:
  • Online learning:  allows the student some control over the time, place, path, or pace of their learning.
  • Brick and mortar learning: students spend some amount of time in a traditional school setting.
  • Connected learning: online and brick and mortar learning are connected so that one supports the other.

Essentially, it blends some aspect of traditional schools and some aspect of online learning to create a hybrid of sorts. It uses time and resources differently than a traditional school might. What makes blended learning a little difficult to pin down is that it can take any number of forms.

Blended learning can also be implemented on many different levels. Whole districts and schools can structure student learning using a certain type of blended learning. At the same time, teachers or grade teams can implement other blended learning strategies in a traditional classroom setting.

It’s my goal to implement blended learning in my classroom in order to personalize learning for my students and maximize my instructional time. My next blog post will explain the different ways teachers and schools can implement blended learning, so stick around!

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