Thursday, February 18, 2016

Week 5 PLN: Blended Learning

My Philosophy on Blended Learning

To be completely honest with you, before this week I have previously heard of blended learning, but I probably wouldn't have been able to give someone an accurate definition of what blended learning is. I probably would have given a very basic response saying it's when you incorporate online learning, but in all actually I don't even know if I would have been able to give that response. At this point, I don't really know what I thought it was before. However, now that I have been watching video discussions and reading articles about it all week, I can definitely say I am interested.

Throughout this past 5 weeks I have truly began to see the positives of using technology to support classroom instruction. Blended learning takes the technology aspect a step farther by not only using technology to support instruction and learning, but by allowing students to take their own responsibility for their learning. It allows them to take control over the time, place, path, and pace of their learning to meet their learning needs best. I really like the idea of the blended learning models that give students time for face-to-face instruction. I do not think that I truly support a completely online program because I believe that students benefit from in-person interactions with teachers and students for a variety of reasons, one of them being to learn social skills and learn how to work in person with other people. Many jobs require that employees can collaborate online and can collaborate in-person in the work place. However, I do see many benefits of blended learning for both teachers and students.

Below is an infographic I found from Gogh Van Go showing benefits of blended learning for teachers and students that I agree with. Check out the site to read a more detailed statement about each benefit.
"Collaborative learning is enhanced by allowing students to exchange and contribute resources in the online environment" (the fourth benefit on the list) really stood out to me because not all students feel comfortable exchanging and contributing in class. By providing different forums for students to do this, such as online discussion boards, it gives every student a voice that may not realize they have or feel comfortable using in face-to-face discussions. This was one of the discussion points that Stacy Hawthorne spoke about in one of our weekly readings, When Does Blended Learning Work Best?, when discussing how her own daughter did not participate in class because she did not have enough confidence, even though she did well in school. However, she contributed in her discussion forums for her online class and even felt comfortable asking questions. I feel that this is a huge benefit for many students as there are many factors why students do not like to participate in class, such as confidence issues or being shy. In my own class, I have recently started using Kidblog and have already began getting so much more information and participation from my students in a few short weeks from their blogs than I do in class discussions.

Another benefit of blended learning that I took from this week's readings and videos was how blended learning helps prepare students for college and career-readiness because it exposes students to technological tools and skills that they will be required to use in the future.

One of the greatest benefits I think blended learning offers is the ability for students to receive such differentiated and personalized instruction that also allows them to work at their pace. This is something that I truly struggle with in my classroom due to things outside of my control, such as lack of resources and technology. Also, in typical face-to-face classrooms, there is a pace you typically have to follow because there are so many standards that you need to address. Many times teachers move on before everyone is truly ready to move on or students sit through lessons that they already know. One of the big reasons teachers move on is because they need to make sure they cover all the standards before high-stakes testing. Blended learning offers opportunities for students to work on the skills that they need to work on at a pace that works for them while still receiving teacher support and feedback and while learning 21st century skills. Students can work quickly through topics they do not need much support with and take extra time to explore, practice, and learn topics that are more challenging for them. Finally, by incorporating the technology aspect, students can be assessed using technology resources and websites that can track and grade students' work. The teacher now has to spend less time on grading and has more time on intervention, feedback, and lesson planning for each student.

Ready to Blend shared the following infographic displaying three key elements to blended learning.

Mugan's Biology Page posted another infographic displaying benefits of blended learning.
I recommend checking out his page on blended learning. Make sure to navigate through his 4 stages at the top that offer:

  • videos about blended learning
  • benefits
  • advantages
  • his own journey with blended learning
  • how to start your own blended learning platform. He also addresses TPACK!
  • resources

To end this blog post, I wanted to share that iNACOL's Blended Learning Teacher Competency, or the qualities that make a person a good blended learning teacher, was one of the most striking things I took from Stacy's presentation. When she was addressing most of the qualities, I really felt that I met the majority of the qualities needed, which hit home with me because until now I never really thought of teaching online or semi-online classes. I also never have really had a great impression of online schooling, but it is important to note that my only impressions of online learning were based off of stereotypes and hear-say so they were probably not very accurate impressions. This week my eyes have really been opened up to blended learning. Also, when I was listening to this presentation I really did not know if I had the capabilities of teaching to a blended learning model. However, when she discussed the qualities of a good blended learning teacher I feel that I could make one. I still don't know if I would actually be able to do this successfully, but I have more confidence that I could, and feel that eventually, with much practice and research, I probably could do it.

Below is a great infographic from iNACOL that shows the competencies that make a good blended learning teacher.

I'm interested to hear any information about how you use blended learning in your classroom. Does anyone have any ideas or resources to help me move to a more blended learning approach in my second grade classroom with limited technology (computer lab two days a week and four classroom computers)?


  1. I agree that a fully online class may not be the best idea because students need to learn how to work with others. I created a web quest for students that lasted for two weeks, and I am not sure if that qualifies as blended learning but that is the closest I got to the idea.

    1. I had my students complete a WebQuest this year, as well, for the first time. I definitely think that it is an activity that could be considered blended learning. I think the difference would be that blended learning seems to be something that is ongoing and throughout the whole year versus one activity here and there. However, blended learning will definitely take a lot of time and effort to fully implement it, and I think that incorporating WebQuests is a great step in the right direction!

  2. I liked the infographics you found and added to your response on blended learning. I have enjoyed following you this class on twitter. You have come up with many excellent ideas to use in your classroom.

    1. Thanks Traci! Infographics have become my new best friend! I'm very visual and they really help highlight the most important parts of new topics for me! I'm glad you liked them and hope you found them useful!