I Now Have a Device, So I’m Blended, Right?
Have you heard of Blended Learning and wondered if you could incorporate that style of instruction? Because it is an instructional design and not about a device. The answer is, “Yes, you can!” Blended Learning is a method of instruction that combines face to face classroom instruction and online learning. Blended Learning is customizable, flexible, allows for assimilation to technology in our ever-changing society.
Blended Learning creates adaptable, intrinsically motivated individuals and allows for better incorporation of technology into their education. Examples of Blended Learning are: 1) Face to Face with online components, 2) Online Lab, 3) Rotation Model and 4) Self-Blend. There is also a bit of a debate as to where the Flipped Classroom fits in to this model. I would say that it is a 5th type of blended learning. However, not all Blended Learning is Flipped. I read a great graphic tweeted by Kristen LOF @koko500 and retweeted by @Edutopia illustrating the likenesses and differences between Blended and Flipped.
Face to Face blended learning is traditional learning with some online components. An online lab is a supervised lab space like a Read 20/20 program. The Rotational Model is a 2/3 or 1/4 ratio of Face to Face and online. In this model use of a “blended lab” would be necessary. This is a space in which students can meet and work collaboratively or individually on class material, product or projects not in the classroom. Finally, in Self-Blend the students chooses their schedule of online and Face to Face interactions.
For the three years prior to this current school year, I taught freshmen in Biology through blended learning instruction as well as juniors and seniors in Anatomy & Physiology. The first year I piloted blended learning instruction it was through BYOD and checking out a cart of Dell laptops when I could. The second year, I was given a cart of 10 iPads to share amongst several teachers and of course still BYOD and checking out laptops or signing up for computer labs. I incorporated the Face to Face with online components. The third year, I was able to move into the Rotational Model as blending learning labs were incorporated into our campus layout. In addition to the blended learning labs, our campus rolled out a 1:1 iPad adoption and I was rockin’ and rollin’! I developed a 2/3 ratio of face to face and online learning alternating 2 days in the blended lab one week and 3 days the next as the schedule allowed. We were sharing two blended labs amongst many blended teachers. Currently, I am the Blended Learning Specialist at a middle school in the same district and am working with a team of core teacher in a blended community for 8th graders. It is very exciting to see the cross-curricular connections and like projects that can be incorporated when the team works with the same students. We are a community within a community. Blended Learning works fabulously with planning with the end in mind. Ask yourself what your students can do without you, find materials and sources, schedule computer labs, use of shared devices and take advantage of students with their own devices. Be prepared to let go of the control to some extent it is extremely learner-centered. Through my experiences, I have learned the ups and downs of incorporating Blended Learning as an instructional design. Here’s my list:
I believe the pros to blended learning definitely out-way the cons. I would never go back to my old way of instruction. Blended is definitely the best instructional design for differentiation in the classroom. When thinking of how to explain the differences of blended learning, I think of the SAMR model. Blended is redefining instruction with the relevant infusion of technology. Blended is about a community mindset in which educators and students learn from each other. Blended is about having a safe, open, flexible learning environment in which students have voice and choice. Blended is about using a variety of instructional tools to simultaneously meet diverse learning style needs. Blended is about making cross-curricular and global connections while students curate content in an authentic and meaningful way.
Blended is not about a device, but about instructional design that develops students who are self-directing, time managers that have choice in what and how they learn; while the facilitator maintains the integrity of the content focus.