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  • Blended Learning - What It Is; What It is Not

    One of the major buzzwords in education is blended learning. As I travel around the country and speak with school administrators and educators on transforming their school and classrooms, it is rare that blended learning, in some capacity, is not mentioned. Equally as rare it would seem is to find consensus on what blended learning actually is and what it looks like in action.

    Maybe the best way to help educators understand what blended learning is, is to describe what it is not. Merely using digital content in lieu of using traditional textbooks does not equate to blended learning. Nor does equipping classrooms with high-tech tools for teachers (and sometimes students) to use result in a blended learning environment. I often see these two examples being implemented in classrooms under the umbrella of the schools "blended learning effort" when in reality, this type of implementation of digital content and technology devices does little to change the role of the teacher, nor does it provide students with greater control over when, where, and how they learn.

    Of the varying definitions of blended learning that exist, perhaps it is most simply described as:

    • The student learns in part through an online learning experience, couple with a traditional brick-and-mortar location
    • The student has some degree of control over the time, place, and pace of their learning
    • Real-time student performance learning data is utilized to inform and adapt instruction and content to the student's needs.

    Blended learning results in not only a different learning experience for students than the traditional classroom model, but it also requires educators to rethink their role in the learning process.

    As your district and schools consider the most effective way to incorporate digital learning into your existing instructional models,
    I encourage you to explore the following resources that may help guide your planning and your thoughts about blended learning:

    1. What is Blended Learning? (from of the Learning Accelerator)
    2. Common Models of Blended Learning (from the Christensen Institute)
    3. Blended Learning MOOC (from Kahn Academy)

    New Jersey Online Learning Services powered by FuelEducation™, is one strategy that your district can implement to provide an array of engaging, interactive, digital course options for your students. Whether you wish to create a blended learning environment in your school, or have students take classes online that you are not able to offer, NJOLS with their partner FuelEducation™ can help. For more information about NJOLS visit: www.njasa.net
    Additionally, please consider participating in our free webinar series in which an digital learning topic is addressed each month.

    If you have questions about online and blended learning as well as what options may be available to you, e-mail me at: bfriendconsulting@gmail.com