Core Beliefs and Impact

My belief is that digital learning isn’t necessarily the answer. It’s just part of the solution. Digital learning means different things to different people. A lot of people hear digital learning and they picture a kid sitting on an I-pad playing on some app. Digital learning is so much more than just replacing teachers with apps and computers. Giving a teacher and a student an Ipad isn’t necessarily going to cause them to learn. It is just a tool or option that will allow them to learn in different ways by managing time, differentiating, allowing intervention, assessment and more.

Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker (2015) even point out the common misconceptions with integrating technology in education versus blended learning in their definition of blended learning as “any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some elements of student control over time, place, path. and/or pace.”

I believe very strongly that we must put more effort into proper professional development with educators on how to properly use blended learning, so students can learn important life concepts such as digital citizenship, collaboration, creation, communication, and content.

Digital tools are just the avenue by which this is made possible. Does that mean we need to throw paper out and get rid of books right now?

No. Of course not. It does mean that we need to learn more about how to integrate both to create a blended learning approach. Some kids and teachers actually do better using paper, glue, poster board, or paint, and some prefer a digital version.

We have to keep, not only the purpose and end goal in mind, but also the learner. What type of learner are they and what opportunities are we affording them to show their learning in a way that makes most sense to them?

That’s why the COVA model is so important. It allows some autonomy to the learning process and end result. Sometimes, I would much rather make a video, but sometimes a poster board or painting will express mastery of the learning objectives.

Education must no longer be one size fits all but all sizes offered to all.

We must change our way of thinking by integrating a Growth Mindset approach to our problems. It’s not necessarily asking ourselves, "What is the problem?" but rather asking ourselves, "How can we improve what we do now?" We don’t live in the age of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but rather we are in the age of seeing change as an opportunity, and that leads to innovations.

My Plan to Be part of the Solution:

Some ways I plan to be part of fixing this problem is by leading a blended book study with teacher leaders, administrators, and instructional specialists over "Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve School." Part of the discussions will take place on Canvas, our learning management system, and some will take place in a face to face discussion. I will also create digital badges for completing the book study and a certificate of completion.

As a continuation of learning about blended learning, we will create an instructional technology cadre within the district mostly made up of teacher leaders and instructional specialist. This group will focus on creating professional development that is not only about blended learning but models blended learning in its delivery.

I have also created a district instructional technology newsletter using S'more that is sent out once a month over different tools and how they can be used in the classroom to create a blended learning environment. The S'more is embedded into our district Google Site which I also created to give teachers a place to go to for resources, training, and ideas.

Lastly, my team and I will conduct a Twitter Chat that focuses on the different types of blended learning to expand the conversation beyond our district and invite other educators to share their voice and opinions to create a collaborative learning process. #allenlearns

By modeling blended learning in our professional development and utilizing digital tools such as Canvas and Twitter, I hope it will alleviate teacher's fears and misconceptions about digital learning tools and inspire them to try it with their own students.