We talk a lot about blended learning opportunities in my district, asking ourselves whether we are offering the most beneficial learning opportunities for both staff and students. We want to provide provide quality online learning resources during times when students are outside of our classrooms, and develop our own digital resources. We know we have a lot of work to do to take advantage of the growing number of tools that are available to us. The following post is by Dennis Villano, the director of technology integation in my district. I thought it was worrth sharing to help others reflect on where they are in regards to these types of conversations in their districts.
Blended learning provides students and teachers with the opportunity to continue teaching and learning beyond the walls of each classroom. Blended learning creates diverse educational freedom for all students. We first started talking about blended learning in Burlington Public Schools before our 1:1 Learning Program was put into place, and even before the iPad used in the 1:1 program existed. We realized that blended learning was the way we would all learn moving forward. A combination of digital, virtual, and face-to-face instruction will guide us as we meet our individual educational goals.
In Burlington, many classes include some elements of blended learning. Our BPS EdTech Team provides support and guidance for creating blended opportunities and always remains focused on using the best tool for each activity. The BPS EdTech Team continues to strongly recommend that all Burlington teachers have some kind of web presence in place for communication with students and parents. There are many options for a web presence and most provide a great foundation for blended learning.
Open Educational Resources (OER) also provide an excellent starting point for curating content to share in blended activities. There are an infinitely growing number of OER resources available online and teachers can use these resources by remixing them as needed for their courses. OER and the new #GoOpen movement from the US Department of Education will be another important part of how we all learn moving forward.
Burlington Public Schools also piloted having students complete assignments at home instead of making up several snow days during the 2014-2015 school year. The concept of BPS Remote Learning (formally BPS Blizzard Bags) for canceled school days is in essence what blended learning is all about. The integration of blended lessons will help provide a great option for BPS Remote Learning. If your classes are actively blended or at least have some blended components, you will be better prepared for the potential use during canceled school days.
Teachers have many options for blended learning. The BPS EdTech Team can help whether you are just getting started or looking to build on your blended learning opportunities. Please contact members of the team for support or visit us during a How Do I Do That session this year.
Ultimately, always keep in mind that blended learning and BPS Remote Learning are not about the apps or tools that you will use. It’s still always about great teaching practices and quality instruction. Blended learning can be most successful when the diverse needs of students are considered and met through diverse instruction. However, it’s important to have a starting point and some initial tools to help along the way. Below are some great options for creating a strong foundation for blended learning and BPS Remote Learning. Don’t get overwhelmed if you are just getting started. Select just a few of the tools and begin to explore.
The opinions expressed in Reinventing K-12 Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.