BLENDED LEARNING IN THE CLASSROOM
Since starting my technology teaching career thirty years ago, I’ve noticed many exciting, new, and innovative ways of combining education with technology. I believe that we have somewhat kept up with the pace of technology. But, are we really using it effectively for the betterment of our students, or merely using it as a tool?
I remember how terrified teachers were when forced to send and receive e-mails on their first desktop computer. I remember providing Professional Development in Technology to a room full of teachers and noticing that I was now the bad guy. I was the one forcing them to make another radical change in their already busy hectic day. It’s almost the same way some students look us those first few days of school each year.
I would like to propose that we make learning more meaningful and fun – yes, fun. I believe that the Blended Learning method can be incorporated into a classroom and ignite a fire throughout the campus. Although this method is quite different from thirty years ago, don’t we all want what is best for our students? Students today have been raised with technology and some are more technologically advanced than their teachers. Why not provide our students with information but deliver the information in a more energizing and effective way. An environment that they already know – technology.
My vision is to move to the Blended Learning model in my Graphics Design classes by learning from the students, providing more opportunities for collaboration, ownership, and voice in student projects and assignments. Blended Learning will allow Jasper High School students an opportunity to perform classwork and projects online – whether at home or in school. Through a combination of videos from various institutions, virtual meetings with speakers, online notes from teachers, online assessments and reviews, I believe our students will become better learners. I know that my students have many digital skills, but don’t really know how to express their work in all areas. I want to help them shine and be successful, learn from each other, teach each other, and teach me all at the same time.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with this approach and I must say that it has been extremely rewarding. Students actually e-mail me their ideas on what project we can do next in class. We have students that are extremely motivated, those who are not motivated, and all areas in between. If we make learning engaging, rewarding, and personal, I feel our entire campus can have exponential growth in learning, in gaining certificates, in being employable after high school, and in being ready for the digital world. If our students find success in their learning, we all succeed.
I’ve already contacted Lufkin High School to tour their campus and see how Blended Learning works for their district. I’ll meet with technology to find out costs, specs, etc. for the use of Blackboard (online learning software). Another advantage of adopting a Blended Learning method in my classroom is the knowledge and skills that I can share with my co-workers and others in the district through Professional Development.
Since one of my professional goals is to increase student certifications in the CTE Department, I feel this will help our growth rate year over year. Please let me know what you think of my Blended Learning proposal. I welcome any suggestions or areas of concern that you may have.