Implementing Blended Learning In Your Team

Make the most of this effective and exciting learning method




Make the most of this effective and exciting learning method

In the battle of the teaching approaches, it’s difficult to determine a clear “winner.” When done properly and well, fully-online learning can be just as effective as in-person learning. And in recent times, it has often been necessary due to public health measures.


With no outside forces influencing decisions, however, “just as effective” is not enough reason to make the switch from in-person learning – and lose the unique benefits of meeting kanohi-ki-te-kanohi. But as schools and other educational institutions come out of this period of disruption and begin to design their “new normal”, it is encouraging to note that research shows blended learning is optimal: incorporating the best of online learning into a face-to-face teaching programme.


(Of course, thanks to the pandemic, we now have hybrid learning to grapple with too–some students attending face-to-face classes and some students learning at home–but that’s a whole other blog post!)


Whether intentionally or as a result of circumstance, many schools and tertiary institutions around Aotearoa have been implementing blended learning in the past two years. And the good news is that it’s an effective method that can increase student achievement.


As with any teaching approach (see our previous blogs about flipped learning), it must be done well to provide the best possible results and impact. To that end, we’ve put together some thoughts for ICT leaders about how they can oversee and manage the implementation of blended learning in their kura.



 

Communicate the goal clearly

One of the most important things to keep in mind when taking blended learning to your team is that some people will have reservations. Incorporating more technology into the curriculum can be seen as an attack on in-person learning. And for many kaiako in Aotearoa, being in the classroom and personally interacting with students is what they are used to and love.


When introducing new ideas, ensure that you communicate that you intend to take the best aspects of both approaches, using them to enhance each other and not cancel each other out. For example, the goal should not be “go fully paperless” or any other digital ultimatum. Always consider which parts of face-to-face learning are worth retaining or reclaiming.


Include it in everything

Take a look at your planning, thinking, conversations, and documents. How is blended learning explicitly visible in those? If you are serious about implementing it, it should be present in all discussions.


Remember when you are talking about this with your people that both sides of the coin are important.


You aren’t looking for opportunities to insert digital activities wherever possible, but weighing up both options and deciding which approach works best where—after all, that’s the beauty of blended learning!

And how do you know what will work best and what’s most effective for any topic or lesson? Your team will be a great source of insight on this. Ask, and listen carefully to their answers.


Use the frameworks

When it comes to tech: The SAMR model—substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition—lays out a framework for kaiako to consider how they are using technology and how it is enhancing or transforming lessons.


When it comes to thinking: The SOLO taxonomy—Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes—describes how a learner’s understanding can build from shallow to complex with different tasks and lessons. It refers to five hierarchical levels of understanding: pre-structural, uni-structural, multistructural, relational, and extended abstract.


These should both be used and referred to when creating a blended learning curriculum. SAMR can guide you in deciding which uses of technology are worthwhile. When there is the option for in-person learning, straight technology substitution may not be helpful. But if the activity is going to augment, modify, or redefine a task entirely, it may well be worth it. Similarly, any activity or lesson should be analysed with regard to the SOLO taxonomy to ensure that it is fostering deeper understanding. Having options for both in-person and online teaching creates more opportunity for this.


Watch out for our workshops

The team at Think e-Learning is excited about the future of blended learning and equipping leaders in the ICT field to create positive change. We will have workshops on the topic coming soon! Keep an eye out on our site for these opportunities, and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page.