Personal Experience with Online and Blended Learning
Looking and reflecting on my role back in March 2020 and the switch from face-to-face instruction to emergency remote teaching, was chaotic and stressful. As an Instructional Technology consultant whose position is to support teachers with implementing technology in the classroom, I knew from the announcement of school closures that our team was going to be busy. I remember waking up being excited to support many teachers and encourage teachers to find their comfort zone in the stressful situation. My job became supporting teachers in the transition to online teaching. This mainly included the startup and assistance of setting up of Microsoft Teams and the training of teaching utilizing Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 for emergency remote teaching. I know the technology well and have the skills and abilities to show teachers how it works. However, as someone who has not physically had my own classroom for the past 3 years and has limited experience teaching online or blended learning it is difficult.
When I was teaching I would run small group instruction for both my math and my English Language Arts classes. These classes would often involve technology that was weaved purposefully into my lessons. We utilized in small groups Mathletics targeting specific math skills, and those skills would be tracked to determine growth. However, we never had the opportunity to run something like a Google Classroom, Class Team, or even a Seesaw Class that provided more opportunities rather than just the posting of content as a way to inform parents.
What is Blended Learning
When we were posed the question of “what is blended learning?” in our recent ECI834 class. I immediately thought of kids learn face-to-face at school and then they use technology at home to engage with the class further. However, this definition was quickly altered and changed after our discussion on Tuesday night.
Blended learning is flexible and can take on many different forms. As discussed in class, Wikipedia provides this definition of Blended Learning:
An approach to education that combines online educational materials and opportunities for interaction online with traditional place-based classroom methods. It requires the physical presence of both teacher and student, with some elements of student control over time, place, path, or pace.
The picture that was shared with us showing the spectrum of blended learning, as it falls in between the face-to-face and fully online teaching.
This week I had the opportunity to have a discussion with some of my former colleagues from other graduate courses. A shout out to Dean Vendramin, Matteo Di Muro, and Daniel Dion on a great discussion regarding blended learning.
Technology Integration into Blended Learning
We all know of the vast amount of technology that we can incorporate into blended and online learning environments. It is important that teachers find technology tools and techniques that work for their teaching model and style. Dean, Matteo, Daniel and I discuss various technology that we have seen teachers use successfully in blended learning environments.
Be sure to check out Daniel’s post for more of our discussion, and be sure to check out my Twitter on our most recent podcast further discussing blended learning.