BlendEd, Blended Learning and Personal Choice  

April 27, 2015
ESU 10 Teaching & Learning coordinators are actively involved in the NDE and ESU Coordinating Council (ESUCC) statewide service initiative of BlendED which is the infrastructural support for the blended-learning environment. It was my understanding for a long time that blended learning was about technology integration. Using technology to support the learning process is a key component of blended learning, but there’s much more to it than I first thought.

Blended learning is an educational model that combines traditional face-to-face and distance classroom methods with online delivery and participation; and an element of student control over time, place, path, and pace. In traditional classrooms, students have little choice in what they learn. State standards, in large part, determine the curriculum in nearly all course offerings, which are delivered in the traditional classroom setting. Distance learning has provided increased opportunities for students, but most of those classes are still offered in a traditional classroom setting, albeit over the internet. Students have little control over time, place, path, and pace. Student choice was the part I didn’t understand. 

A 2014 survey of Nebraska school teachers and students was conducted by Clarity Bright Bytes revealed that
•   79% of students find it easy to collaborate on online documents.
•   70% of students are reading online content daily in their personal lives.
While only
•   10% of students are asked to review online content by their teachers.
•   9% of students are asked to write online monthly by their teachers.

The survey also showed that Nebraska teachers are ready to remedy this issue and make a shift in the current practice.
•   Six out of 10 teachers believe that technology is needed to reach this teaching goal.
•   Over 50% of all teachers in Nebraska receive less that 8 hours of professional development on instructional technology and personal learning in a school year.

The best learning is driven by the learner. It’s personal...for both students and teachers. See BlendEd in Nebraska Prezi at http://goo.gl/GVjO4p

How will students be able to chose time, place, path, and pace if teachers don’t know how to deliver content and resources in a different style? How will teachers be able to change their practices without adequate time and professional learning opportunities allowing them to choose the best time, place, path, and pace for themselves.

In January 2015, ESU 10 Teaching and Learning coordinators attended a one-day training conducted by Marcia Kish, a Blended-Learning consultant, in which we experienced a true blended-learning environment http://www.blendedlearningcookbook.com/. The tools and strategies presented challenged us to increase the ways in which professional development is offered at ESU 10. So be on the lookout for future opportunities that allow choice of time, place, path and pace in your professional learning.

-by Graci Gillming,Teaching and Learning EdTech Coordinator

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