Blended Learning Questions Answered: Part II

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 -- Jasmine Auger

Last week, in the first installment of our series on blended learning, our Virtual Program Manager Tony Skauge answered several frequently asked questions regarding what blended learning is and how to incorporate it into your classroom. We discussed rigorous research being done to support the effectiveness of blended learning programs by groups such as the Clayton Christensen Institute, how to get started with reverse planning strategies, and the role of student data in a blended learning classroom.  

This week, Tony will be answering some common questions related to the planning phase of starting a blended learning program. Having a solid, strategic plan in place before implementation is key to achieving success with your blended learning initiative. Begin with the educational outcomes you desire, then find the technology that facilitates those goals. Remember: technology is a tool, not a leadership outcome.

  • How do I implement blended learning in my classroom if I do not have enough computers for all of my students?

There are many different ways to incorporate blended learning strategies within a classroom that has limited access to technology. The ‘Station Rotation’ model, as defined in this Clayton Christensen Institute paper, is a very popular blended learning strategy that does not require each student to have a computer. In this model, ‘students rotate on a fixed schedule between learning online in a self-paced environment and participating in a classroom with a face to- face teacher.’ Even in a classroom with very limited technology, leveraging a blended learning model such as Station Rotation can help educators make the most of the resources they do have.

  • We are trying to decide between purchasing tablets or laptops for our blended learning initiative. Is one better than the other for supporting students in a blended environment?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question; it all depends on the specifics of your unique program. To determine what the best option is for you, spend time with your colleagues thinking about how the tool will be used within your learning environment. If you anticipate having students do a significant amount of writing in your blended learning classroom, laptops may be the way to go. Alternatively, if you are most focused on portability and ease of use, you may want to consider tablets. Focusing on how you want to use the tool in your classroom should help you settle on a tool that both fits you and your students’ needs and expectations.

  • Which Edmentum-based solutions fit best in a blended-learning environment?

Part of what makes blended learning such an effective instructional practice is the flexibility it offers teachers in the classroom. This being the case, all of Edmentum’s solutions, including Plato Courseware, Study Island, ESL Reading Smart, Edmentum Assessments, and EducationCity, can easily fit into a variety of blended learning models. From online content delivery to interactive practice activities, our solutions can support teachers in building and maintaining a variety of successful blended learning environments.

As is true with any new endeavor, planning is an essential step. However, it is also important to let the process happen as organically as possible. Each school or district has their own set of strengths and challenges. Take the time to observe your school environment and determine a blended learning model that will compliment staff and students alike.   

Next week, we will be wrapping up this series on blended learning by answering questions concerning the actual implementation of a blended learning program. In the meantime, brush up on your implementation know-how by reading about Newport School District’s model for blended learning success. Or, check out this brochure for more information on how Edmentum’s solutions can support your blended learning program! Happy planning!