Using digital tools and online content to enhance traditional curriculum and learning methods should be direct and easy, right? As teachers, we all recognize that both digital and online materials can be used to create a more “fun” learning environment, integrate an atmosphere of flexibility into traditional teaching methods, improve your own time management issues, increase student engagement and, yes – save money! So, given these great “perks,” why aren’t all teachers using a blend of technology, online curriculum, and textbooks in the classroom?
BLENDED LEARNING AND TECHNOLOGY ACCESS
The idea of integrating digital and online content with traditional teaching methods is known as “blended learning.” Individual student access to technology is crucial to the implementation of blended learning.
When it comes to the reality and needs of technology access for blended learning classrooms, one of the most obvious mistakes we’re making these days is insisting that our students surrender their cellphones at the door or requiring that they put away their phones and tablets during classroom hours. This is a mistake because, not only are most of these kids carrying cellphones and tablets with them every day, but they gravitate towards these tools. So why not accept that this is the case and start looking at these personal technology items as teaching tools rather than as a nuisance to be “disappeared” at the start of every classroom day? Why not USE them as part of your instructional toolbox?
While the fact that some of your students are walking in the front door with their own technology tools can be a real asset to your budget and your time commitment, it’s also important to consider the needs of students who don’t have access to their own tools and may not even have access to a computer or the Internet at home. This is the very real problem of lack of technology and digital content access and may potentially be solved by helping these students learn to use your school’s computer lab, or creating a “laptop check-out program” that allows students to take a laptop home on a one-night-at-a-time basis. If your school does not have the budget to fund a technology lab or laptop checkout program, look for granting opportunities that could help put the tools in your school. For example, many city libraries have programs (sometimes known as “Friends of the Library”) that are focused on small grant programs for technology-based classroom projects. A Computer Learning Lab would be a great place to use this kind of an opportunity.
The idea of blended learning can be really exciting for students but can sometimes create unrealistic expectations on the part of parents who may not understand what the opportunities related to your school’s learning lab or laptop checkout programs or other elements of the program might be. It will be important to make sure both students and parents understand just what the idea of blended learning is, and how it can and should be used in both the classroom and at home. Provide a sample lesson to parents. Hold a classroom open house where you can lead tours of your learning station arrangement for both parents and their children. Guide parents through the learning platform approach so they are aware of what will be expected of their children. Ongoing communication with parents will pay off one hundred fold both in the ease of transitioning to a blended learning model and in gaining important parental support for the program.
START USING BLENDED LEARNING TODAY!
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome! Not only will you save money, but you’ll save time because using online curricula allows you to spend less time supervising students, delivering textbook-based lectures, and grading assignments and more time interacting with your students on a more personal basis. For an exciting selection of seven complete curriculum programs, you can use immediately and with confidence, visit www.globalstudentnetwork.com and – start blending today!