Hello ECI 834’ers!
I know the title of my blog will only seem relevant to some people in this class because maybe my story will seem like I’ve had this technology forever – but I have had many conversations with the more senior students at my school and they cannot fathom that I didn’t have a home computer until later high school and that my internet was connected to my phone line – which we had one of, so I couldn’t be on it for more than a couple minutes at a time. Or, that I didn’t get a cell phone until grade 12 and it was for “emergencies only” because it was connected to a phone card and I didn’t have data. It absolutely blows their minds…HOW DID I SURVIVE?!? I didn’t integrate technology into my “regular” life until years, and years after most kids now because it wasn’t available. Now, as a professional in this day and age, I feel like I am constantly
Image source looking for ways to integrate technology because my kiddos learn better and appear to absorb more when I find a video, search an internet site or offer a game to review instead of the regular pen and paper approach…which I still think is important too by the way! 😉 They love being hands on with the computers or ipads and it is second nature to have the world in the palms of their hands.
I teach grade 2/3 so the way I integrate technology and blend learning is different than in ways I have had my learning blended in my University life, but I strive, on account of my own education to put technology to good, meaningful use. In the reading from this week, Teaching In a Digital world, Chapter 9: The continuum of technology-based learning they give us the following definition of blended learning which I feel like applies to my classroom in many ways,
- technology-enhanced learning, or technology used as classroom aids; a typical example would be the use of Powerpoint slides and/or clickers;
- the use of a learning management system to support classroom teaching, for storing learning materials, set readings and perhaps online discussion;
- the use of lecture capture for flipped classrooms
Throughout my classroom experience I utilize many ways to allow technology to enhance my teaching and the learning experience of my students. I use programs such as Brainpop Jr., Plikers, Youtube, and Facebook to ensure my students are getting the most out of their day in a way that is relevant to them. I love Brainpop Jr. for their simple explanations, videos and for the quizzes they provide both for print and online. I use Pliker’s as an awesome way to review material or retell using technology – the kids love the hands on way to answer questions and they like to see if their answers are correct in almost real time. I love the life that Youtube videos or demonstrations filmed and put on Youtube bring to my classroom! The kids love being able to take in information in such a visual way and there is SO much content at the tips of your fingers. Finally, for the past 5 years in my classroom I have been utilizing Facebook as a tool to share my day with families and strengthen the home/school connection. My kids have also done “facebook takeovers” where they are in charge of the pictures and content for the day, making them responsible and more literate members of the online world. These, in my opinion, are all ways of using the blending learning route without offering full online content.
The challenges I faced have mostly had to do with the fact that parents are still trying to wrap their heads around technology being used in the classroom as a learning tool. There are parents that feel very strongly that screen time is screen time and that it needs to be limited if we want our children to be learning in school – I don’t agree with this as I feel like, if screen time is used to enhance and enrich learning with proper supervision, it is setting students up for success in the new world in which they are growing up in. Being digitally literate is SO important and it is our responsibility, in conjunction with families to ensure our children and students are being equipped with the knowledge to make good choices online. Located on the media smarts site I have linked above, this graphic outlines the importance of educating our children in many facets of the online world and I think you need these foundations built before a fully blended learning environment can be its most effective. I suppose I would want to direct families to sites like Media Smarts so they can have a better understanding of why this “screen time” isn’t just “for the sake of having the computers out” and that there are reasons and goals during blended learning time just like any other subject. Blending learning is just a framework to support the learning in every subject at school!
I loved the graphic to the right as I think it really puts into check the difference between the 3 styles of learning that are featured in the reading. I think, as we have spoken about in many classes with Alec before, there is no point in ignoring technology as it’s not going anywhere so we midaswell teach kids how to not only be safe and healthy online, but how to use the resources to benefit them. I truly believe that the blended approach in this day and age is the way to go to reach as many learners as we can both in the moment as well as to be able to set them up for success as they venture out into the world. We need to be realistic about the kids we work with and the world in which they will be growing up. Keeping them away from the technology in school in my opinion, is just as dangerous as letting them use it – with training and supervision of course!
Image source So what about my own learning experience???
As far as my own blended learning – I feel like it has completely changed my mindset and opened my eyes to so many resources that I have actually used in my classroom. Many are mentioned above! 🙂 I have been thankful for the set up of my blended learning experience, I don’t know if I would like the idea of “fully online learning” but appreciate the mix of an online learning experience mixed with the opportunity for “face-to-face” contact. I have to admit, much like my friend and classmate Joe, I had a more skeptical approach to anything online before Alec’s classes as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had, had a bad experience in an online class where I was left feeling abandoned and stressed, potentially to much of a swing right in the continuum for me? In Alec’s blended learning environment I felt I wasn’t alone and that my classmates were creating an environment that felt homey, supportive, creative and safe. I want to make sure that I leave my own students feeling more like the latter!
I loved this chart that I stumbled across on Nataly’s blog post this week that does a nice job summarizing the issues with blended learning. Although I have had a mostly positive experience, there are many downfalls that need to be addressed before blended learning can be considered a viable option for education for all. I think we need to be extremely mindful of what we were asking from our students until we can establish that they have access to all of the tools they need to be success in a blended learning environment. I am not talking about drive, motivation, etc. but the literal technology and physical accessibility to make the potential for learning possible.
Overall, I am huge proponent of blended learning both in my professional career and my career as a student! I love the flexibility, differentiation, and creativity it has awarded me throughout my schooling. I am looking forward to offering these experiences to others as I continue my career as a teacher.
“Educating the mind without educating the heart,
is no education at all.”