Transforming the Classroom through Blended Learning: Making Learning Powerful for Kids

Written by Karen Smith & Anne Atherton

Parents of many of our K-12 students have likely roamed the halls of their children’s schools or sat in their children’s classrooms and heard, in passing, the phrase… Blended Learning. What, exactly, are we blending, and how is this impacting our children?

Blended Learning is an instructional model that takes the best of traditional classroom methods and combines it with high quality online content. In a blended learning environment, students are interacting with and using technology to support their learning.

Today it is critical that our students are incorporating technology into their learning because technology is a tool that supports meeting  increased academic demands.  Twenty-first Century Skills have become a cornerstone in academic standards today. According to the Colorado Department of Education, “The 21st century skills are the synthesis of the essential abilities students must apply in our rapidly changing world. Today’s students need a repertoire of knowledge and skills that are more diverse, complex, and integrated than any previous generation.” These 21st Century Skills include the following capabilities:

  • Critical Thinking and Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Self Direction
  • Invention

Technology, then, becomes a critical tool that students can access to help them meet these 21st Century Skills in ways never before experienced. Technology allows students the ability to collaborate virtually, to communicate with various audiences, to think critically and to create using programs that capture thinking in unique and innovative ways.


Redefining the Role of the Teacher

In a Blended Learning environment, the teacher interacts with students in more of an individualized fashion as students explore learning opportunities utilizing the technology. An environment that incorporates the blended learning model provides the following advantages for students:

  • Choice
  • Active learning
  • Differentiation
  • Immediate feedback on student learning (from online assessments)
  • Authentic Learning

In a blended learning environment, technology becomes a powerful partner as it puts the student at the center of the learning and gives them control over the content, path, place, pace and time of learning.

What Blended Learning is: What Blended Learning is NOT:
  • A blend between classroom best practices and integrated online content
  • Student-centered
  • Teachers’ roles shifts gives time for the teacher to interact with students and gage understanding through formative assessment
  • Adapted to best fit student and classroom needs/practices
  • Inquiry-driven learning
  • Placing more control of content, pace, place, path and time of learning in students’ hands
  • A program driven by an online computer software (core instruction)
  • Whole group instruction through online videos
  • Learning through web resources/apps that are not integrated in core instruction
  • Online learning
  • Recording a lecture and posting it in Schoology without opportunities for active learning and assessment of knowledge
  • Posting class syllabi and resources online

For more information on Blended Learning and how you might continue to support the home-school connection around this instructional model, please visit the following link: Blended Learning in the Mix: The Informed Parent

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