Blended Learning – the latest trend in K-12 Education

The Horizon report lists Blended Learning as one the top trends for K-12 education (Johnson et al., 2015).

Blending for time, place, space and learner control. Blending for time, place, space and learner control.What exactly is blended learning?

Blended learning, is an emerging term describing face-to-face learning with online learning. In its essence, blended learning is seen to have the potential to transform learning by personalizing learning and providing learners with varied approaches to learn at their own pace, space, and time and pathways.  With technology readily and Internet access available, blended learning is seen by some as an approach that so significantly changes learning it is causing the world to re-think whole education systems (US Department of Education Office of Technology, 2014; UNESCO, 2014)

Examples of approaches to blended learning include “Flipped Learning” where students access learning resources outside of class and then participate in other learning activities when face to face. Other approaches, although sometimes considered merely an extension of ICT integration, include providing instruction and resources online supplemented by in-class experiences with and without technology. This approach gives learners the ability to pause, rewind and revisit instructions and resources as needed. Other approaches include activities, lessons or even courses entirely outsourced to third party providers (think Pearsons).

So what is being blended?

What is being blended is digital and physical, teacher time with students, and home and school!

What does blended learning look like in a primary school?

The take up of virtual learning environments is telling with over 80 million users between Edmodo and Google Classroom (see their websites for up to date numbers). While there is no prescribed approach to blended learning, these sites, as well as the multitude of LMS’s available show that primary educators are incorporating some sort of platform for learning. Reasons vary, but here are some I’ve found:

  1. Resources
  2. Workflow for student created digital artifacts (eg. Books, Movies)
  3. Collaborate on multi-user documents
  4. Collaborate with other students
  5. Provide Feedback on digital media texts
  6. Communicate with instructor
  7. Connect home and school

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC horizon report: 2015 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc-.org

UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO education strategy 2014-2021. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org

U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2014). Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning, 70 p. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Future-Ready-Schools-Building-Technology-Infrastructure-for-Learning-….pdf

ShowBie – The iPad Workflow Solution?

When our Year 1 and 2 teachers embarked on our 1:1 Mobile Learning program last term, they immediately saw the challenges of workflow. While embracing the multimodal capabilities of the iPad, we quickly realised the obstacles with our traditional thinking about the processes of handing up and giving feedback on new media including eBooks, video and the multitude of creations possible on the iPad.

We then asked:

    • Do teachers need to review every video during classtime?
    • What about large file sizes and email?
    • How can we give timely feedback?
    • How can we keep up with all that students are doing?
    • What needs to have peer feedback or be shared with the class via AirPlay?

Collecting, organising and giving feedback on digital media produced by students is a challenge! Until now.

Enter Showbie

Showbie is a workflow app and cloud solution to assign, collect and review “assignments”. It’s clever use of the “Open In” feature allows students to “hand-up” just about anything they create on an iPad using the Showbie app.  What’s more, its simple interface makes this a workable solution even for our 6 and 7 year olds.  From a teacher’s perspective, they can assign tasks, share resources for the tasks and easily see who has handed up their work and comment on it using annotations, audio notes or text comments.

The support team are very responsive to support requests and have made it easy to answer your own questions including useful tutorials on how to use ShowBie with dozens of apps including my favourites: iMovie, Explain Everything, BookCreator, Comic Life and anything in the Camera Roll.

Showbie address the workspace part of an ePortfolio – but does not currently serve as a “showcase” environment or collaborative space.

What’s next?

From a technical perspective, I’d like to see some risk reduction (back-up, versioning, …). I’d also love to see a way for students to communicate not just with their teacher, but with one another.  And.. I’d like to interface (easily) with a blogging platform like EduBlogs so students can publish their ideas and finished products to both gain feedback from broader audiences and maintain a collection of artfefacts of their learning journey beyond a single classroom environment.

Overall, Showbie shows much promise! I’ve just subscribed to a Pro version for our school  and our Year 2 teachers are excited about the potential.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on iPad Workflow and Showbie in particular. Why not download the free version and see for yourself?

Top 5 Strategies for Enabling Learners with Technology

In my role as ICT Coordinator I “help” other educators with technology. Although sometimes the cry is quite literally “help me!” often the most effective ways of ‘helping” involve approaches that are proactive, planned and resourced. Here are my top 5 strategies s at this point in time.

1) Enable don’t rescue

“If you teach a man to fish…” Working side by side and sharing strategies for learning enables problem-solving and self help. Rescuing people gets the job done quickly but leaves them helpless and perpetuates the problem.  I’d rather spend an hour helping someone learn a new skill than 10 minutes doing it for them.

2) Open Up

It’s tempting to simplify and standardize learning environments to make things “easy” by dictating the look, feel and software available. However, the more ownership a learner has of their technology, the more stake they have in their own development.   Why not open up? What’s the worst that can happen? Backups are wonderful. Sometimes starting over is a lesson worth learning too. Teachers and students need administrative access to their computers so they can make the changes needed to personalise their learning environments.

3) Proactive Help

Rather than waiting to re-act when problems occur, why not work with teachers when they are planning and imagining possibilities? Novices may not always see ways to transform learning (SAMR Model) using technology. Helping one another when planning learning is where some of the biggest transformations can occur.  I love to do the background work to set teachers up for success and being supported reduces their perception of risk.

4) Build, buy and share tools to Enable Self Help

Whether its a database of FAQs, a collection of “Tech Help” tips, a library of resources, an ePub with tips, or a collection of socially book marked weblinks there are unlimited resources for helping learners help themselves. Sometimes people just need to be pointed in the right direction (see #1). Alan November talks about the idea of Learning Farms where students create and share tutorials to help themselves, their peers AND their teachers.

5) BIte-sized tips

At our staff meetings we share a 2-3 minute “SnipIT” or short segment of how to use technology. Sometimes, its a nuts and bolts item like “how to calibrate a projector” or “lodging a help desk ticket”. More often than not SnipITs involves a teacher sharing something innovative they have tried with their students (creating an eBook, filming students, creating QR codes or trying out a new online resource).  This fosters a culture of sharing and risk-taking and gives people ‘put it into practice tomorrow’ ideas.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by exfordy

Blog as Professional Portfolio

I am attending a workshop with George Couros discussing the National Professional Standards for Teachers and using a Blog as a showcase of evidence against the standards. In this blog I will be exploring the following seven standards:

  1. Know Your Students
  2. Know the Content
  3. Plan Teaching and Learning
  4. Safe and Supportive Learning
  5. Assess, Feedback and Report
  6. Professional Learning
  7. Engage Professionally

Watch this short video about the National Professional Standards for teachers.

http://youtu.be/S2NILPXmjws

 

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by followtheseinstructions