Blended learning. That’s what I do – design blended learning opportunities for adults and sometimes kiddos. Call it eLearning. Call it online learning. Call it professional development. Call it instructional design. Call it virtual coaching…heck, call it whatever you want, because just like my job, it appears as though the world of “blended learning” is pretty mixed up and jumbled. People cannot seem to land on a common definition, though there are some standard jumping off points that are embraced by the community, centering around the four models nicely displayed by the Christensen Institute. Wonders started popping up when I started listening, really listening, to what others in this world were talking about.
- Is a flipped classroom blended?
- Is a classroom where my students are using some supplemental online skills program, like StudyIsland or ALEKS, blended?
- My students are already using a LMS to organize their learning and create next steps by researching on the computer. Is that blended?
- Some of my kids have online classes that they take during school. Some of them have online classes they take at home. Their education is blended, right?
- I use technology as a tool in my classroom already. But that’s not blended, is it?
Here’s what I say…yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! Why is it so confusing for educators to wrap their minds around the term “blended”? And more startling, why do most of the conversations center around tools and software programs to make education blended as opposed to why this approach is a better way for kids and adults to learn? Shouldn’t it just be the way people do education? By utilizing multiple learning modalities to reach all kids? Isn’t that the approach to how we should be differentiating and instructing anyway? By providing multiple pathways to get to the learning, not just one standardized way? That’s the real reason for me to work in this field: to help people learn more deeply about something that will enhance their life by accessing materials that meet their learning styles and needs. And to me, that doesn’t necessarily fit into a specific blended learning model. So, in this space, I will post thoughts, tools, resources, and wonders about the world of blended education, both for kids and for adults. And I make no apologies if that doesn’t fit a specific definition.
For now, my current work takes the shape of supporting facilitators through designing, developing, and implementing New Tech Network’s project-based learning approach. So, to all of you New Tech teachers out there who may be wondering, “If I teach in a New Tech school, aren’t I already blended?” I say, “Yes, you are. And New Tech has been since its beginning. So keep doing what you are doing. Your blender is already on.”
To those of you who may just be thinking about blending your classroom or own learning, go ahead and flip the switch. It’s fun to mix it up and more engaging for your kiddos.