The issue that most schools have with blended learning is the undefined way that most educators use the term. Mostly blended learning is used to define any type of instruction done with technology. The Christensen Institute has defined blended learning as "as a formal education program that must have three components: it must be part online, with students having some control over the time, place, path, or pace of their learning; it must occur, in part, in a brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along a student’s learning path must be connected to provide an integrated learning experience."
Additionally, the Christensen Institute as created seven different models for effective in class blended learning.
- Station Rotation
- Lab Rotation
- Individual Rotation
- Flipped Classroom
- A La Carte
- Enriched Virtual
The problem still exists that unless school districts truly define what they mean by blended learning, there will never be systematic change for adopting blended learning. So how can we make sure that a blended learning initiative is not just going One2One or putting kids on devices? And how can we truly modernize our pedagogy to make sure that technology is purposeful and used in powerful ways?
A Defined Model of Blended Learning:
Tradigital Learning - A defined model of blended learning that merges current best teacher practices from a traditional classroom with those best teacher practices from a digital classroom. The model supports a four different phases that moves educators and leaders from a traditional teacher to a tradigital teacher. The work is rooted in research from John Hattie, Clayton Christensen, Catlin Tucker, Michael Horn and Heather Staker. The model focuses more on improving pedagogy focusing on research proven strategies in using traditional resources as well as digital tools.
There are 8 major academic components to Tradigital Learning
- Types of Activities
- Classroom Experiences
- Professional Development Needed for the Educators
- Teacher Role
- Use of Technology
- Use of Data
- Student Ownership
Next Steps in Tradigital Learning:
As you begin to modernize your teacher strategies and move into a defined model of blended learning, all educators need to examine their current teaching practices. Tradigital Learning wants to honor the good work that teachers have done and continue to do on a daily basis. There are many great teaching practices that should stay a part of Tradigital Learning. But like with anything there are some areas that need to be cleaned up.
How Do We Identify the Best Teaching Practices from a Traditional Classroom and from a Digital Classroom:
The best place to start is with researched based information, and I can think of no better place then with the work of John Hattie and Visible Learning. John Hattie over the years has performed over 1200 meta-studies related to student achievement. In the book, Visible Learning, he found 138 influences with a positive or negative effects on learning outcomes. Recently, he has updated his research and now includes 252 influences on learning.
Hattie studied six major areas that contribute to learning: the student, the home, the curricula, the teacher and the teaching and learning approaches. With his research, he found a hinge point of 0.40 average effect size. Hattie's work now uses that hinge size as the indicator to judge the success of influences.
So my recommendation is that educators examine this list and determine what stays and what goes. Making sure that all educators are supported in this work. Additionally, we must realize that teachers are at all different levels in this transition. We must be able to support them at all different levels, realizing that some educators will move faster and some with move slower.
The Gears of Scaling Tradigital Learning
STUDENT LEARNING - Students will take ownership and demonstrate understanding through authentic and relevant methods. Students will have a voice and choice in how they demonstrate their learning.
INSTRUCTION - Instructional best practices will be blended with effective technology tools to personalize learning. Learning opportunities outside of the classroom as well as innovative experiences within the classroom are used to increase student understanding.
LEARNING ENVIRONMENT - A physical space that is inviting, safe and flexible. This environment promotes communication, collaboration, innovation, inspiration, and creative exploration which encourages learning through productivity.
ENGAGED ENVIRONMENT - The district and outside community culture is one in which teachers, students, parents, and community members are empowered and inspired to teach and learn from one another. Learning is a partnership and a shared experience in a student- centered classroom. Student learning is personalized and encourages critical thinking.
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING - The district believes that with any part of teaching and learning our staff needs to be trained to properly leverage the available instructional tools
ONE 2 ONE - Blended learning requires the use of a device when that device is the appropriate tool to reach the instructional goal or objective. Technology must be available when the student or teacher needs to use it, not only when the computer lab is available or a cart is not being used. The ability to go One- to-One with devices allows for the use of technology to be seamless in the classroom, not seen as a hurdle.
SUPPORT - In best utilizing blended learning, our staff and students will need both instructional and technical support. More devices equals more technical issues equals more need for skilled individuals to help solve those issues. Additionally, support for instruction will be needed to fully use these devices in powerful ways.