Reply – Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
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Re: Topic #1: Introduction to the Online Learner
— by Amy Scherb Amy Scherb
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.