Blended Learning: A Model for Change
The Blended Learning Classroom
Most teachers and parents are aware of the call for serious change in our public school system. Students need more opportunities to engage in personalized material that keeps them motivated and stimulates more than just memorization of facts. The lack of abundant resources (including staff members) means schools must increase the reach of every teacher and make the most of school funding. While virtually every educational facility in the country is using digital media in some form, the concept of blended learning involves more than just the simple utilization of technology.
Calls for Blended Learning
Blended learning combines face to face instructional methods with additional learning opportunities provided through technology, but the concept isn't fully embraced until available resources (time, money, staffing, etc.) are intentionally adjusted to adopt this new curriculum style. Effective implementation of a blended learning strategy involves careful planning, infrastructure development, measurement of progress, and ongoing refinement. FactSumo's e-learning sessions can form the backbone of a solid blended learning strategy that produces significant benefits.
When Will Blended Learning Truly Be Embraced?
Although any combination of traditional instruction and a digital media based e-learning opportunity is officially classified as blended learning, teachers who only sporadically uses new age resources have yet to fully embrace the concept.
Once educators recognize the potential of technology to meet a significant portion of the need for more personalized learning experiences, blended learning naturally appears to be the most logical path forward. Student scheduling and staffing patterns may be adjusted to effectively integrate periods of technology use, as spaced repetition has been shown most effective at promoting long-term retention of information. Allocation of funding may be in order to purchase equipment and many educators will find their roles will change in response to the blended learning environment.
What's Driving the Nation Towards Blended Learning?
A number of issues are naturally driving the nation towards the blended learning curriculum, including:
- The need for more personalized instruction. Because students progress at different paces, traditional lecturing methods are bound to confuse slower learners while others are left bored to tears. Conversely, e-learning applications tailor material to each student (through the use of algorithms) and provide an element of control over the time, pace and pathing of each lesson. As a result, engagement naturally increases and confidence soars as students at all levels answer more and more questions correctly.
- The need for individualized progress reports. Teachers may be some of the most dedicated members of society yet there are only so many hours in a day to manually monitor the progress of individual students. When blended learning is an integrated aspect of the curriculum, electronically updated reports put personalized data at the teacher's fingertips within seconds.
- The need to stretch resources. Limited time, money, and staff members require school districts stretch resources to meet student needs. Blended learning relieves teachers of repetitive tasks and frees up class time for highly valuable discussions. When wifi is available, students can utilize their own personal devices to access learning applications, saving the district significant expense.
- Readily available and highly adaptable e-learning applications. Highly adaptable e-learning applications make blended learning possible, yet their widespread use is relatively new. Programs have become affordable and accessible anywhere internet access is available, helping to bridge the digital divide for students and adults who have yet to make technology part of their lives.
- Adequate preparation for online standardized tests. Since the national shift to online standardized testing back in 2015, schools have recognized the need to help every student learn effectively using technology.
Implementing the Blended Learning Curriculum
Blended learning takes planning and requires continuous monitoring of results to ensure short and long-term objectives are being met. The process involves the following steps:
- Ensure you have adequate support. Discuss the imminent shift to a fully blended curriculum with staff members, students, and parents. Be sure to explain that professional development courses will be provided to help bridge the digital divide.
- Plan out the process. Outline the learning goals of the new curriculum. Your e-learning applications and digital content should align with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for maximum results. Determine the resources you'll need for professional development classes, new infrastructure, devices, tech support and beyond.
- Obtain funding. In some districts, budget adjustments may allow for full implementation of a blended learning curriculum. Fundraisers and/or grants may also be explored to complete the project.
- Prepare staff members. Professional development is critical for success with blended learning. Create instructional models and choose the digital platform that best meets your needs before scheduling continuing education courses. This allows you to effectively train staff members for the upcoming changes.
- Create the infrastructure. Blended learning success is impossible without adequate infrastructure. Wifi networks may require significant upgrades, additional tech support may be in order, and devices may need to be purchased.
- Monitor the results. Measurement of results is the only reliable way to validate the value of any project. If preliminary results indicate the objectives of the project are not being met, changes can be made to steer it back on track. Even when results exceed expectations, further improvement is always possible and any project funded by a grant will require verification of results.
FactSumo - An e-Learning Application for Every Classroom
FactSumo's advanced algorithms tailor material for each student based on real-time responses. Personalized learning from each session fosters an expanding knowledge base in an engaging manner. Pre-loaded learning decks are available for a wide variety of subjects and teachers can request an upload of customized material. Many instructors choose to dedicate five minutes of daily class time to FactSumo, and report dramatic improvements in retention and increased confidence in those who have fallen behind. Faster learners will never have to deal with boredom while practicing on the platform, and teachers can monitor progress in seconds as opposed to hours. FactSumo can form the base of a blended learning curriculum that is stimulating and engaging for students, straightforward and empowering for instructors and inspirational to administrators and parents alike.