What is blended learning? (And what it is not)

So you’ve started putting your students on the computers more this year. You might even have a few new iPads floating around. This is a great start. Frankly, I do not think schools use enough technology for instruction. However, your increased use of devices does not mean your students are experiencing blended learning — yet.

The definition of blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns:

  1. at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;
  2. at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
  3. and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.

—Clayton Christensen Institute

The key here is that students have some control over their learning. Also, what the students learn (or don’t learn) in the online world should inform the instruction in the traditional brick and mortar setting. That means a couple things:

  1. Kids are not simply placed on computers all day. Students should also experience teacher-led instruction and collaboration with peers.
  2. Students are working on different things at different times on the computers. Programs are adaptive or allow students to complete work at their own pace.
  3. Teachers are looking at data provided by the online programs and adjusting/differentiating their instruction in accordance with that data.

Here’s a quick video that spoke to me when I first started learning about this kind of disruptive innovation. It was exciting to hear that some schools were trying new approaches in order to reach all students.

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