The concept of blended learning has become a hot topic in a relatively short time. As more states are looking at ways to make technology integration a part of the learning process, blended learning has gained momentum. This momentum has been created because of our need to adapt to a technologically connected and digital world in which we now live.
In June, 2013, Ohio Governor, John Kasich, chose Gahanna Lincoln High School’s Clark Hall to announce his blended learning initiative (Ohio SB 316). We were chosen because Governor Kasich recognized Clark Hall as a hub of blended learning and 21st Century learning. So that we are all operating with the same definition of blended learning, following is how blended learning is described in Ohio SB 316:
“…the delivery of instruction in a combination of time in a supervised physical location away from home and online delivery whereby the student has some element of control over time, place, path, or pace of learning.”
Even though Clark Hall is a model of blended learning today, our blended learning journey began about seven years ago when we had two teachers who designed their courses (an English 11 course and an Accounting course) in such a way that students did not have to attend class every day. They solidified a grant to get a set of laptop computers, designed a course on Moodle, and were free to explore. Students had to earn the right to use flex time (time outside of the normal class period) by meeting the agreed upon standards (grades, attendance, etc.) and they excelled.
Fast forward to the last two years, several GLHS teachers (Ryan Kitsmiller @rkitsmiller, Dwayne Marshall @marshall133, Katie Anderson @kpa12, Fred Donelson @mrdglhs to name a few) have created blended learning environments by using Google Apps or Moodle to house their course content. This fall, five teachers, including two previously mentioned, took a class to learn how to develop an online course. Through this class, they either enhanced their skill or learned to develop an engaging and rigorous course beyond just making worksheets digital. Three of the teachers have recently launched their blended courses. We will soon have several courses where students will have the option to take it completely as an online course.
The key components of blended learning include:
*Connectivity- access to web with a mobile device is essential because it makes learning an anytime, anywhere event.
*Relevant course content-student voice and choice in how they want to learn and present their learning.
*Engaging material, such as videos, blogging, inquiry-based questions.
*Collaboration- the opportunity for students to work together to solve problems and assist one another anytime, anywhere digitally.
*Feedback- teacher and peer feedback on blogs or other web 2.0 sites
*Time Management-students must plan according to maximize their time
Blended learning is not just the future of education, it’s our current reality as we have integrated technology, provided relevant professional development, and created an environment that is focused on learning.