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April 27, 2013

Blended Learning Workshop at Holton-Arms School

I recently attended the Holton-Arms School blended learning workshop and learning lab. The event was led by Patty Carver, Linda Caleb, and Mary Dobroth. They provided information and practice sessions to give participants experience in how they could use blended learning opportunities in their teaching.

Here are some of my notes from the day:

-It is about the pedagogy not the tech.
-There is a real hope that in teaching AP teachers can move away from content delivery and teacher centered to student-centered and discussion-based learning
-Blended learning is another way to help students use the tools they use outside of school in school.
-BL helps with efficient use of time.  Teachers not restricted by short classroom periods as the learning continues outside of the school day.
-Blended learning involves collaboration to learn together outside of school as well as when they are in class. This collaboration is the difference between just posting resources, reading, etc. on one’s LMS for consumption. Real blended learning has students learning from each other outside of the classroom.
-Need to help educate parents about blended and full online learning. Comes down to definition of teaching when folks question paying for tuition that involves less teacher-centered learning situations. Need to educate parents that there are many other ways to teach other than direct instruction. In fact, if we are really about differentiation, we should be using many instructional and assessment strategies whether we are blending or not.
-Good blended learning starts with teachers changing pedagogy and using technology effectively to build learning opportunities outside of the classroom. This can be a huge task that involves change for many teachers. Need to do a lot of planning to make this shift to make sure you have finances and time for teachers to receive the preparation and ongoing support. A few questions to ask:  How do you structure the PD time to not make it an add on? What is learning? How ready are teachers to take some risks?
-If you are moving towards learning goals that are more concept-based, it is not as easy to assess concepts compared to knowledge.
-Going blended means empowering students to have more control over their learning. This can be fine for many students who have the dispositions and skills to handle being more independent. But for many it is a struggle. Need to ask how you will help your students be more independent and self-directed. How will you support the students needing much more oversight as well as those who have specific learning needs? Remember that we need to offer differentiation in our blended learning environment just as we do our regular classroom.
-Total up the number of hours per week that you would normally want the students to spend in face to face time as you plan their time outside of class. Don’t want to make blended learning take more time.
-Real need to think of teachers as designers.
-It is a skill that takes time to learn to facilitate running your discussion boards. Really need to teach students the skills in how to ask each other questions, to make comments in a constructive fashion.
-Look to have students view the projects they create outside of class to then use a discussion board for reflections and discussion. One way to approach is to assign groups of students to watch certain projects to make their comments.

In preparation for the workshop I put together a web page of blended learning resources. I offer examples from ACDS and my collection of WebQuests and Learning Pursuit expeditions to model good and maybe not so good ways that the learning can be extended beyond the class period. Some had strong virtual collaboration opportunities in them.



Image Source: Patty Carver created the infographic at the top of the post which is just a small portion of the original. See the full version here.

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