In a thorough post (300+ words), 1) describe the current state of online or blended learning within your school.
2) Describe the students or the areas within the school program where online/blended learning offers the most promise.
3) What are some of the challenges your school would have for implementation?
4) What items within the Introduction to the Online Learner module stood out to you as the most important for changing your thinking in this area?
I teach 4th grade at Carter Lake Elementary in Council Bluffs Community Schools. Our school district has been using one to one Chromebooks with students in grades 3 through 12 for the past two years. Although we have the resources to implement blended learning in these grades district wide I don’t feel as if very many teachers have incorporated blended learning in their classroom, including myself. I say this because I don’t feel there are a lot of teachers within my building that don’t know how to incorporate blended learning in a way that benefits their students.
Before taking this course my perspective of blended learning had changed tremendously. Initially, I thought blended learning was weaving technology into student learning, where technology was more or less a tool to aid in enhancing student learning. Now that I see blended learning as the vehicle for student learning I am able reflect on where I can see blended learning best fit within my instruction.
Knowing what I know now I see blended learning as an opportunity for me to put learning in my students’ hands rather than me driving student instruction. Blended learning can be beneficial across so many areas and for all students, however one particular area that comes to mind when thinking about how blended learning offers the most promise is math. There is no doubt that within my group of students I will have varying degrees of proficiency when it comes to their math skills. In a blended learning classroom I see myself being able boost student achievement by tailoring their learning with blended learning as well as my instruction. Secondly, I also see blended learning as a way to provide my students more focused instruction based on their needs. I see myself achieving this by utilizing technology to allow for students to work on solving problems, communicating results, and responding to questions online while I work with a small group of students who have similar needs.
I believe that the most difficult aspect of incorporating blended learning at my school would be changing the mindset of some teachers in how technology is used in a blended learning classroom. As mentioned before I first thought of blended learning as being a tool to enhance student learning. I believe other teachers may see it this way as well if not given proper information and time to understand blended learning. At the same time I can also see some teachers view blended learning as a management system that allows students to work on a computer program while he/she is with small groups. This type of mindset can fail blended learning’s potential by using technology in isolation rather than a tool to help students succeed.
I found the statement within the introduction to the Online Learner module that stated, “Technology is no longer supplementary to curricula, it is integral to the 21st century learning model,” to be important in changing my thinking in this area. This line stuck out to me because it just goes to show that gone are the days of where technology would serve as a trivial item to lure students into learning, today students must be immersed in technology in order for them to be prepared for their futures. When thinking about preparing our students for the future, blended learning serves as avenue that truly allows our students to be self regulated learners. I believe there is no limit to student success when we provide students the opportunity to be self regulated learners through blended learning.
In addition to student success I also believe that blended learning allows teachers to reach their fullest potential at meeting the needs of their students. The blended learning model truly allows teachers to provide timely and specific feedback, which can in turn aid in student success. As well as a guide for ensuring that their instruction is meeting their students’ needs.
Finally, blended learning allows students to communicate their thinking not only their teachers but also their peers. This type of online communication also aids in preparing students for 21st century learning since so much of our communication today is done from behind a computer screen. Blended learning allows students to practice sharing, commenting, and collaborating, a skill that our students need as they prepare for their futures.
I will start off by saying that this is my first year teaching at my school, so my knowledge of the system, students, and challenges as a whole are limited. That said, I'll share my initial impressions.
1) My school is 1-to-1 with iPads and has been for a few years now. There are some classes that use textbooks for the students and some that have no textbook at all. I will be teaching 4 different preps, 2 utilizing a text for the students and 2 without a text.
2) I think there's a lot of promise for online and blended learning in a majority of the areas of study, but there are some limitations.
3) Some of the biggest limitations involve availability of quality resources online. Granted, there are thousands upon thousands of resources available, but finding the right ones can be challenging. One of the most reliable methods for obtaining quality resources is making them yourself, but that can be incredibly time-consuming. In fact, that's another one of the challenges teachers face with blended/online learning; time. Time is a precious commodity and doing things online can save time, but can also create a lot of headaches and wasting time unnecessarily.
4) I was intrigued by the admission that this course would not make me an expert, but would likely raise more questions and anxiety about what's left to learn. That's not a common thing to admit when teaching a course.
I am a teacher at a private school in St. Louis, and I taught the previous 8 years at a private school in Mexico. I will reference both schools throughout my post. Both schools use a learning management system – Haiku or Canvas – and both have online learning options through a program called Global Online Academy. In this program, students are able to take classes that are not offered within the school. In both schools, I have been expected to use the learning management system to post assignments. Online assignments and posting of resources is typical for all teachers.
Most teachers are using some form of online learning or blending, but the degree of blending tends to depend more on the teacher and than a particular subject or students. I think virtually all teachers incorporate some online learning whether they involve videos, flipped classroom, or an online applet. However, some teachers are nearly fully integrated with blogging, forums, and mostly all online assignments.
I think the biggest obstacles to integrating more online and blended learning is teacher comfort with it. It takes to time find or make online resources that fit the needs of a particular learning target. Therefore, it takes commitment on the teacher to be willing to take the time to prepare the activity and courage to take the risk to implement the activity. I think that online and blended activities need to be implemented incrementally, but it takes a time commitment for the teacher to implement them. However, I am fortunate that at my schools, resources have not been an obstacle to implementation.
For online learning, I’m a math teacher, but I like the possibilities for a couple of reasons. First, I like that it incorporates technology for 21st century learning. Technology usage will be crucial throughout the students’ lives. Also, incorporating online learning helps students focus on their learning which I believe can be more in control of the direction as opposed to teacher directed learning if students are given the necessary support to take control of their learning. Additionally, I like that incorporating online learning helps those students who are uncomfortable with whole class contributions to have a voice to share their opinions online.
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I knew going in that taking this class was going to be a learning experience. The high school listened to a couple of 5-6 and 7-8 grade science and social studies teachers. They are doing this with part of the students in their school. Not all of the students get to participate in this, only ones whose parents thought their students would benefit from it.
I am going to try it because I have thought about it in the past and thought the students could benefit from the wealth of knowledge on the Internet. Now I have a class that does not like to talk when I am trying to pull them into a discussion. So I am going to try to have online videos and other activities along with discussion boards that the students can use to discuss topics before they get into small groups.
I teach business education classes so in some of my classes, the students use computers on a daily basis for Computer Applications and some of the other classes do research or take quizzes or tests in Schoology on them. This year the district has added more IPads in the elementary schools and Chromebooks to the middle schools and high school. Supposedly in the high school we have enough computers to be considered 1 to 1, but the Chromebooks stay in the classroom. Students have to check them out in each classroom when the teachers want them to be used. They can’t take them home or use them outside the classroom unless the study hall has some accessible or they can get into a computer lab. However, now they are removing the desktop computer labs since we have Chromebooks.
I have Desktops in my classroom that have Microsoft Office on them for one of the classes I teach. The teachers have MS Office on the teacher desktops to use if they want. The teachers and students can download MS Office 2016 at home to use it they want, but most aren’t using it because they are using Google Docs because of the sharing and file storage capabilities. I don’t like to use Google Docs very often in my classes because I have found out that most businesses use MS Office or something similar in the workplace and want their employees to know how to use those applications.
The school has selected online tools for us to use, mainly the ones that are free to Education. As Teachers, we don’t have the authorization to try new online tools at school because we don’t have the authority to install any applications to try. So we are locked into what they tell us is available unless we try the new applications on our computers at home and then get approval.
I am still excited to be using blended learning even though I am the only Business Teacher in our high school and being part-time. As a 5/8 teacher, it is challenging to keep up with the students and the classes when developing new methods because of the other jobs I have to maintain. I will have to spend more time looking for groups that can help me process this and become better at it.
The parts of Blended Learning that are making it interesting/challenging are deciding what the possibilities are that can happen to make students more enthusiastic about my classes and trying to decide what tools to use that will be interesting for the students and make my classes better for the students.
I currently teach at a middle school in Iowa. I would say that online and blended learning is still a format that most teachers are not comfortable using. There are some of us teachers that use it when applicable and appropriate, but others are not able or willing to put in the extra time it takes to really develop a solid blended classroom. As for me about half of planning is spent on a blended classroom. This has greatly helped me to reach students on a variety of levels and has created a more differentiated space for learning.
I teach science and love the aspect of a blended classroom. I am able to create different spaces and lessons to reach the students who need more scaffolding and reteaching, or push my more advanced students to the next level of understanding. I love that I am able to spend more time in class on labs, as the students have time outside of the walls of our classroom to explore and learn more about the science behind what we are doing.
Blended and online learning definitely pose some challenges. One of them being the access to internet outside of class time. Our city does have city wide wi-fi that is free, although it is not accessible to those that live in other areas, like Carter Lake. Although we are a district that is one to one, some students have lost privileges for poor choices which will limit their internet access to gmail and Google apps only.
One theme that was repeated over and over again was the fact that technology is an integral part of learning in our present and future. That we need to find ways to utilize it effectively, not just for word processing. The fact that there are so many free web tools available to teachers like SoftChalk, is one indicators of the importance technology has in our classroom. Another part I related to in the class was the importance of teaching our students how to be digital citizens and proper netiquette. This is extremely important for their safety, but also for the success of future online interactions. I believe that this is also one of the reasons why many teachers shy away from online or blended learning. Many adults do not understand digital citizenship or how to teach their students how to have proper online interactions, instead many just block all access and try to control what their students do.
Blended learning is wonderful tool that can be used to enhance our teaching. It gives teachers the unique ability to differentiate, and reach all learners in way that works for both teacher and student.
I currently teach education courses at a community college. We teach courses face-to-face, online, and also in a hybrid format, which is combination of online and face-to-face learning. Online teaching is becoming more and more popular; however there are several students who would rather not take them. Some students struggle with technology and the self-paced format. The hybrid format is great because it does offer more of a flipped classroom idea. The students are responsible for reading chapters, doing online discussions, and exams online. The students then apply their knowledge during class through discussions and activities. Even the face-to-face classes require some online learning. I currently post all notes, activities, and some assessments online.
I feel that the needs of the students in the future will call for more online learning. Most students work and have very busy schedules. The online format allows students to complete their coursework while maintaining jobs and families. We are currently working to use the Quality Matters Standards for Online Learning to make sure that our online courses are quality. If we use a variety of formats that appeal to all learning styles, I feel that our whole program could be taught online someday.
The biggest challenge my school has with implementation is making sure that all students have access to computers and internet accessibility. I have also had issues in the past with our online learning system syncing with a book publishing company system. Also, making sure that students are taking the initiative to do the work and online learning is tricky. If the students don't complete the work that they are expected to complete in a timely manner, it can complicate the entire experience.
The item in the module that stood out to me the most was the part where etiquette is discussed. Setting up ground rules for respectful discussions is something that I am going to implement in the future. Putting myself in the shoes of the online learner, and responding in an empathetic way also changed my thinking. Everyone has different experience levels, it is important for me to understand that.
I teach high school in the Davenport Community School District. In the past ten years our district, as a whole, has made a move to incorporate technology in the classroom. This started school wide with a few carts of mobile computers that all staff shared. This was new and innovative, but soon we saw drawbacks. The computers took a while to load, broke easily, would not always be charged when needed, the carts were big and bulky, and all the charging wires got crossed up and pulled of the charging ports. Within the last five years the district has purchased Chromebooks that now includes usage for grades 3 to 12. Our initiative was to put a Chromebook cart in every classroom. Although this was a gradual process, now almost all classrooms have a Chromebook cart. We have improved our technology infrastructure to meet the demand of increased usage, but we still run into problems with slowness. We are in the process of checking out a Chromebook to each student like we check out textbooks. I think blended learning will offer the most promise to the struggling student. Online learning offers another avenue of instruction instead of teacher led learning. With online resources there is a plethora of resources to choose from for a particular subject, each with its own level of content. I think the state of blended learning at my school is low. Although all content areas in my school have implemented technology to some extent, I think it is still mostly just for research. I think we need more in service on effective online and blended learning.
Challenges my school would face for implementation would be teacher readiness. Time and trying something new are the two obstacles we face. New ideas take more time to plan and organize. With increased demand in other areas, time is a virtue, and most teachers are not going to do something that may require more time. Also, lots of apprehension is associated with trying something new, so it is all together avoided. I see a wide range of abilities among staff when it comes to technical integration in the class. There are those that actively try need things and those that resist technology use all together in the classroom. We have a technical support team within the staff. They do continual professional development so they are able to answer our questions, help with implementation of resources, and troubleshoot problems we may have. In-service as a building instead of individual staff would be useful.
I really have no idea what blended learning is all about and I hope to learn a lot by the end of this course. I use Chromebooks in my class, but mostly for research. I know there is a wide range of uses for Chromebooks in the classroom, so I want to maximize that use. I know that self-paced instruction is a valuable learning method, so I would like to use blended learning as a tool for differentiated instruction. Blended learning can allow me to tailor instruction more toward individual student needs.
First off, I substitute teach, but have been in the K-12 arena before. I also work in higher education, so I have that take on this, too.
The current state is that online and blended learning is increasing tremendously. I do see quite a bit of face time interaction with the instructor, too. That part is still necessary. High school students are gaining college credit quickly with Kirkwood and other colleges offering more online dual credit courses.
The most promise seems to be with those that would like to achieve dual credit. The amount of students taking college courses is increasing. The options for those courses is also increasing. Elementary students will likely benefit, too. I foresee an increase in additional courses online for those students through the monitoring system of the school.
Implementation is hard when it's new. Change is not always easy. Students may be more receptive to the change than in previous generations as students have grown up with online interaction. To monitor and effectively ensure participation and grading would be the hard part. Motivation to complete the course could be an issue without proper guidance to make sure the student is logged on and learning.
Items that stood out to me were the numbers in how many schools are heading this way. I live in a rural area where high school sees more options than other areas in this. It seems that the entire school system will change over the next few years in this direction. Students that can learn in many ways have a great advantage, though.
In order to describe the current state of online or blended learning within my school, I need to give a little background about how we got to where we are and my role in our district. We are a medium size rural school in a relatively affluent farming community. I am our district's 7-12 ELP teacher, so I have the privilege of working with our district's highest ability learners. When I started 9 years ago, we had very limited access to computer-related technology. One lab for middle school, and another for high school. Pressure on these resources was extremely high, and caused all kinds of management issues as people scrambled to secure spots to align with their curricular plans. This was a nightmare. Staff had to plan literally months in advance to get a spot, and then had to face the occasional situation where they had the lab, but weren't in a spot where they were ready to use it.
Advance a few years and our district took the bold (and costly) step to move to a 1:1 environment. Despite the anxiety this caused initially in our community and school, we eventually made the transition that allowed every Intermediate, Middle, and High school student to have their own laptop. Early learning used iPads. This of course helped to increase the usage of technology across our curriculum, but the district struggled to find ways to make this technology compliment what was happening in the classroom.
After a few years of experience, we began to realize the variety of ways that teachers and students could utilize their computers to advance their learning. This opened up a dialogue about what we would allow students to do with this new access and capability. As the director for our Extended Learning Program, I was given a lot of flexibility to open up more and more opportunities for our students to pursue curriculum that fell outside of what was offered in our regular classroom environments. I just had to demonstrate that each pursuit had a clearly defined academic purpose and would be an appropriate way to address the needs of the students involved.
2) For our school, there are limits to the number of staff and curricular areas offered for our students. Online/Blended learning has opened a whole new world of content to our students. Primarily, this world is open to those members of our ELP that have demonstrated a willingness and capability to direct their own learning in a meaningful and responsible way. Self-directed learning works for some, but not for others ... regardless of their ability levels. For the students that can handle the autonomy and responsibility required to manage this effectively, this has been a great addition to our school. The key has been to establish clear expectations of progress and performance, and to utilize some alternative assessment strategies that allowed students to more accurately show what they are doing and learning.
3) The primary challenge we faced to implement online learning in the classroom was to find affordable and credible resources to drive the variety of learning that students were interested in pursuing. As we started to become more familiar with what was "out there", we began to accumulate a pool of tools that students could use to build or design content aligned to their interests. Now those tools are made available to all students that choose to follow the steps of others before them. When new content areas are requested by students, it becomes necessary for them to start with the location of resources before they can gain approval for their ideas to make sure that they will have a academically valid and purposeful experience.
4) I found the history of online learning at the beginning of the course to be very helpful. Understanding the way that this process has developed over time has helped provide me with some valuable perspective about how we got to where we are. It also helped develop some appreciation for how far we've come in such a relatively short amount of time. The other component that I found really helpful was the variety of examples of assessment that can compliment online learning. This dramatically expanded my understanding of how to effectively capture what my students are learning while engaged in online learning.
1) describe the current state of online or blended learning within your school.
I teach 5th grade in a middle school in Iowa. We are currently spending quite a bit of professional development time increasing personalized learning in our district and are, at the moment, focusing on learning about blended learning. We are a 1:1 district, so there are many varying degrees of blended going on within the district. We have high school students involved in online courses with in-house teachers as mentors, flipped classrooms, stations/rotations, etc.. Personally, I use a lot of stations/rotations and have many areas that could be “flipped” - offering videos lessons, online practice, etc.
2) Describe the students or the areas within the school program where online/blended learning offers the most promise.
Personally, I use a lot of stations/rotations and have many areas that could be “flipped” - offering videos lessons, online practice, etc. When students are absent, I like having the ability to have them catch up on their own. I also like to have the lessons and practice available for when students do not show solid understanding on the original assessments. We are standards based, so if they do not get something in a formal assessment, they keep working on it and can reassess to show solid understanding. Having the content, lessons and practice available outside of teacher face time would be helpful for this as well. We are currently increasing the use of rotation time to have a “what I need” rotation for this purpose, so that I can be working with students on a current lesson, they can collaborate, work independently and also work on past skills they still need. I use my Google website for this type of work.
3) What are some of the challenges your school would have for implementation?
My largest challenge for completely flipping my lessons or providing all I have outside of the school day would be lack of internet for many of my families. If I assign something, I still have a chunk of kids that will need that time in school to complete it because I don’t feel like I can hold them accountable for not having the access at home. Then also… you still also have students that just do not do it…. So they are not ready for the discussion and work the next day. At this time, these factors have kept me from moving to the flipped classroom model.
4) What items within the Introduction to the Online Learner module stood out to you as the most important for changing your thinking in this area?
I don’t have a lot of assessment tools that I’m using without face-to-face, so this is an an area I’d like to learn more about and add.
I read this article to best describe our situation and to get a handle on the varying degrees of blended and online learning.
For the most part we have majority classroom courses, followed by some synchronous distributed courses made possible by our 1 to 1 Chromebook program. There is small percentage of TAG students taking online classes.
There is a strong desire among many students to learn programming. I have found despite being highly interested students struggled with the free versions of online courses, such as Khan Academy, Code Academy, and code.org. One of my roles in teaching coding has been to help them learn how to use the online self paced classes. Syntax, analytics, deconstruction and reconstruction are some the basic skills they learn so that they can become better online learners of programming.
Students with learning disabilities benefit greatly from sites such as Code.org in a blended situation. I will have some students begin in Code.org and then pull them from it briefly to assess their progress pinpoint their struggles and provide additional resources.
Blended learning would work well for students moving from one school to another or has been absent for a long time. An incoming student can use this approach to catch up to join a classroom.
In a nutshell, online learning offers the most promise to students not on pace with the current classroom due to moving from another district or long-term absence, students with disabilities and students who advance at a quicker pace.
Personally, because I am mostly deaf and learning autonomously by reading all my life to stay on par or ahead prepared me well for online learning. So I wonder about the various ways people learned without a classroom teacher before there were computers or internet.
There would possibly be resistance or hesitancy by educators in two ways and one is there would be a clash between their own knowledge and information coming from technology. Many teachers or districts operate on the belief they are the primary educator in terms providing the information to students and in essence compete with other methods of information delivery. The reality may be that teachers are just one source among many others. The role of the teacher changes significantly when it involves co-teaching with various technologies.
Another challenge would be due to lack understanding of technology in general. Despite the desire to include blended learning, schools and teachers struggle with fusing traditional teaching styles and methods with information technology and particular on-line classes. The understanding the various roles of online and/or blended learning is no small thing when considering standards, assessments, accountability, and the teachers themselves for successful implementation.
I am intrigued by the possibility of creating an online experience that works for all students. Also, not all students respond to online or blended learning equally so I am interested in how online delivery can respond to the various thresholds from when the student goes from being a classroom dependent learner to an independent learner. I am also interested in the dynamics of the ebb and flow between traditional face to face learning and online learning based on the changing knowledge level.
Currently, I teach at Des Moines East High School in the Flex Academy. In years past, it has been called Academic Support Lab or Credit Recovery Lab although the target population hasn't really changed. Funded by dropout prevention, its a non traditional environment for re-engaged or a student who is at at high-risk of dropping out. For many students the material is delivered online through an LMS. Although there is a push to go to a blended classroom it has proven difficult for me as I may have 20 students at one time, in 4 different subject areas, and in different areas of a subject area. For an example one student may be in US History Semester 2 learning about the great depression, one student is working on WW II, and another studying the social change of the 1960's. Considering that, I may have to prep for each student during a block.
At East, like almost any other school students face day to day challenges that I believe many did not face just a few generations ago. Some students struggle with having jobs, taking care of other family members, or their own children. In these cases where schedules may change in on a moments notice, online learning may be of some benefit.
There are also some challenges that face online learners one of those being a lack of technology capable of delivering online content. This is most evident in cases where there is a socioeconomic concern for the student. Students may not have an internet connection or a cell phone that many of us take for granted. Another challenge is the motivation that one needs to complete an online or at your own pace class, if a student is not motivated the class will often become an after thought if the student has the opportunity to do something else.
The most important thing, obviously is motivation as discussed above. That is the challenge for teachers both in the regular and online classroom.
In my school, all students have their own computers. I teach the ESL students. The intention is that all subjects be taught online. I really enjoy having the possibility to do all online. As with all, there are some challenges that come with this implementation. Sometimes some areas of the school have really poor internet reception.
Another serious issue we encounter is when it comes to the English Language Learners, they are not as "literarily advanced" as other students. We need to go a little behind with them to explain the basics before we can expect them to feel ok doing all online.
The item that stood out the most was how we can complement learning and assessments by using online resources. I am aware that I need more training, but It is a good start.
Good afternoon! I am a director of a lab school for Indian Hills Community College as well as an adjunct instructor for the college in a couple programs. I teach online as well as face to face classes, and am interested in this class because although I have been doing this; there was really never any training on "how to" instruct at the college level. So since I needed more credits to renew my Master's license it seems like a win/win class for me to take.
I look forward to gaining insight in the process as well as valued discussion from others in this class. We currently offer very few hybrid/blended courses at the college I teach for; however it seems like a wonderful idea and what a resourceful way to make classes even more reachable for students at all levels.
Our students vary from High school level to non-traditional learners and obviously at the community college level we want to offer what will meet the ever changing needs of our client base. The community I teach in is 19% poverty – 23% of families qualify for low income.
I think the main challenge with blended/hybrid is if the students are taking their classes online it typically is because they can't find the time to make it to campus; therefore even if just coming a few times could pose some issues for them.
What stood out is that it will not make me an expert, but would likely raise more questions and anxiety about what's left to learn. As an educator we are continually looking for ways to grow and learn; and help our students be more successful – so although it stood out to me; I also completely understand it and value it.
I teach 5th grade literacy at Vernon Middle School in Marion, IA. Currently, I am not aware of any blended learning going on in our school, but a few teachers are beginning to move that way. Our district hired substitute teachers for a day and allowed us to visit a classroom, in another district, that implements blended learning. It was great to see blended learning in action and truly got me thinking about how to plan and teach differently.
Each classroom at Vernon has 16 Chromebooks for use. This makes it a bit difficult to create a full classroom plan, but usually, we are able to snag Chromebooks from another classroom in order to make sure each student has a computer to use. I feel like the literacy classroom has some great advantages for using a blended classroom structure. With the difference in learners and learning styles a blended learning classroom can be structured at a slower pace for the struggling learner and create more challenges for the more gifted learners. Not to mention the average learners would be able to push themselves, too. I like the fact that while blended learning is going on I could pull kids and work with them in small groups on any concepts they are struggling with.
Some challenges I could see with implementing blended learning is not having a one to one Chromebook ratio for students. Having only 16 computers in the classrooms has taught us to be very creative when we are planning lessons. At times, also, our internet is interrupted and this causes some major issues. I also worry about some students knowledge of computers. You would think in this day and age all of our students are able to operate a computer. But, there are still a few who struggle. It's a learning curve that we need to be aware of while using blended learning.
One item that stood out to me in the introduction is how important blended learning is for our students. The 21st Century skills learned from a blended learning classroom will be with our students into their adulthood. Blended learning will impact their learning, communication skills, and help students to be more well rounded. It will be important to plan lessons well to better prepare my students for their future.
I should start by stating that I am a substitute teacher. I have been working in the elementary, but mostly the middle school and high school for the last three years. The school where I have been working is what I would consider very blended in terms of online learning. In 2009, our school obtained a grant that has eventually supplied a MacBook computer for each student for grades 5-12. The younger grades have traveling labtop carts that they can access as the teachers find necessary. Even in the few years since the grant has been obtained, I have witnessed a heavy acceptance from the teachers of the blended learning styles. Almost every class has done away with paper and textbooks almost entirely, and all of the learning is typically accessed through the computers. Their projects usually involve some form of paper, slideshow, video, prezi, etc. All the documents that they need for these projects are usually also found on their computers, and then they will go through things as a class, but it's available even to those that can't join the classroom for whatever reason.
When asked to describe an area within the school program where I believe the online/blended learning offers the most promise, I would have to answer the alternative program. We have a program for students, that if they cannot keep up or stay in a regular classroom for various reasons, they can complete their high school credits for that class through an online program. I have seen a lot of kids in the few years that I have been substitute teaching, that probably would have dropped out, or failed if not for this opportunity. Many that are in this program seem to really prefer the online learning style, and seem to excel at working at their own pace with the guidance of one overall instructor.
I think one of the major challenges our schools have seen for implementation of blended/online learning is the motivation and distractions that come with online learning. Just like what was discussed in this learning module, the motivation for online learning is completely different than learning in a typical classroom. It has been difficult to encourage students to get their work done and stay on task with so many different avenues at their fingertips. I feel that it would be widely helpful and successful if they could implement a program that would allow the teach to see what each student was doing from her computer screen. I think this lack of monitoring has definitely created some difficulties, and made it more difficult for students to find the motivation required to keep up with their online learning class.
One recurring item within the introduction to the online learner module that has stood out to me as the most important, is the demand for online learning seems to be constant. In other words it's not going anywhere. It has changed drastically, and already looks a lot different than it did when it first arrived on the scene in Iowa. Who knows what it will look like even a few years from now, but one thing for sure is that it seems to be here to stay.
I teach high school art at Sumner-Fredericksburg High School in Sumner, Iowa. While many of my classes are hands-on classes such as drawing, painting, pottery and sculpture, we do offer classes that are computer bases in the field of Graphic Arts. We offer Computer Graphic Arts I and Computer Graphic Arts II. These classes are based on the graphic arts field and are held in a fairly modern computer lab setting.
Sumner-Fredericksburg has been a 1:1 school for 4 years. Currently we are a Mac iPad school with all students 9-12 are in possession of a school owned iPad. The iPads were very helpful in the classroom with the many Apps that are available. The pitfalls that many teachers saw were too many non educational apps (games) and it was hard for word processing.
This fall we are switching to Chromebooks. I feel that as an art teacher the iPads are great for use of project development, sketching, searching and collecting reference photos and making digital portfolios of the students work. As a whole school setting I believe that the Chromebooks will be a better overall fit for our students. We will still have some iPads for students and teachers to use. These will be available on iPad Carts that will be checked out through our technology department.
I feel that the blended learning would be beneficial to my students as a way to work on projects individually and share their thoughts and projects more freely with the instructor and other students.
One issue we face at Sumner-Fredericksburg is time for students to take elective classes like art. We are on a Trimester schedule with our day consisting of 6 period days. This makes it extremely difficult for students to find an open class period that allows them to take elective classes. I believe that the online/blended class offerings may be an excellent way to help these students to still experience those elective classes that I feel are very important in their high school education. It also allows students that take ICN classes that chance to take a class on their off days and stay up to date with the rest of the class.
I feel that largest challenge would be the willingness of teachers and students to see the possibilities of the blended classroom. I think a successful teacher is one that can adapt with the times and challenges that come along throughout their teaching career. The ability to adapt and create a schedule that works and benefits students is a great thing. I feel that an open communication line between the counselor who schedules classes and the teacher that would incorporate some blended learning opportunities is the greatest aspect of making blended learning in an art room setting.
I believe the statement that technology is no longer a supplement in the classroom is very true. We use the iPads daily as a tool to document the design process and project progress in a digital portfolio. We also use technology to share ideas about their project with eachother.
I teach 7-12 French, Music, and Digital Arts at Alpha Omega Academy, an online Christian school. We use Ignitia as our learning management system, and much of our curriculum has been developed and written by a section of our company called Odysseyware. Our 2400-count student body is international and varied. We serve students from individual families, students in boarding-type schools, and students from brick-and-mortar public and private schools. AOA is accredited and graduates @ 200 seniors each year.
In our courses, there are 5 units (or chapters) in each semester, each containing learning lessons, quizzes, a unit exam, and projects. The program is designed so that students read, study, and complete 1-2 learning lessons each day. Each lesson has a set of questions for students to complete before moving on, and they must score at least 80% before they can move on to the next lesson. Following 4-6 lessons, they take a quiz, and at the end of the unit, they complete a comprehensive unit test. As teachers here, we are allowed and encouraged to customize our courses. One way we do that is by creating projects. I really love that part of my job! Based on the problems my students have encountered doing their work or the need for more practice with certain skills, I tweak and sometimes rewrite my projects each year.
One of the biggest challenges we have faced as a faculty is maintaining a connection with our students. We hold online 30-minute classes using gotomeeting or gototraining. It’s a good place for students to interact with other students since they are connected with audio, and oftentimes, we use activities such as Jeopardy lab games to practice skills. Additionally, we daily have online office hours in a gotomeeting where students can come for help or complete conversation projects. However, our school runs year-round and students start their classes at varying times, so it is impossible to assign group projects.
Much of my instruction to students is one-to-one on the phone. In French, we practice pronunciation and grammar constructions which eventually leads to conversations. In Music Appreciation, Music Theory, and Digital Arts, my communications with students involve answering specific questions they may have about music notation software, listening project requirements, and photography.
Since we have the capability of writing lessons and projects as well as assessments such as quizzes and tests, I am very interested in the possibility of adding my own screencasts or videos to both lessons and projects.
I teach 5th grade literacy at Vernon Middle School in Marion. I am unaware of any teacher who has incorporated blended learning completely in our building. Many teachers use technology in their classrooms however. Last year, we finally had access to computers in our classrooms. Before that, we had to check out computers on a cart which proved difficult. Now that we have 16 Chromebooks in our classroom, the possibility of a blended classroom is much more realistic.
I feel any classroom has promise to use a blended learning model. Each subject area has their own advantages and disadvantages. I feel math classrooms lend itself to an easier transition due to the resources online already available to them. Plus, they have just received more iPads which makes computation much easier. I do feel our English department has an advantage with the access to technology. We have the most Chromebooks out of all of the departments. We also have been using Google classroom quite frequently.
The biggest struggle, in my opinion, is expecting students to complete some of the tasks at home. Many students do have access to technology, but some do not. 20% of our student population struggles with work completion. I wonder if they would also struggle with watching videos or reading articles to prepare them for the next day’s activities. I know blended learning is not a flipped classroom, but there are some commonalities.
This course opened my eyes to a few strategies I would like to incorporate more into my classroom. I like the reflection idea. Having students post their thoughts about their learning in a journal or blog is a fabulous idea. You really get invaluable insight into their thinking. I also like the idea of using online resources. I am a firm believer in differentiation, and this strategy allows for student choice. Students also can go at their own pace which allows for extension activities and remediation. I also learned of many different apps/websites I can use for activities. We have adopted Moodle as an LMS, so it was beneficial for me to learn about it before the school year begins.
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