The educational landscape is shifting. Thank goodness. It’s starting to mirror the types of experiences students are having outside of the school day. Students are finding themselves in classrooms that blend online learning with the support of the teacher. Teachers roles are changing from the “keeper of all knowledge” to “curators of knowledge.” When done correctly, blended learning prepares students to meet the changing demands of life after school- whether they are going onto college or pursuing another avenue of employment.
So, what are some best practices for incorporating blended learning into your classroom?Here are 10 tips to get help you get started with blended learning in your classroom:
- Don’t assume everyone has the same access to tech. Take a tech inventory at the beginning of each school year to determine what types of access students have to a device and Internet outside of school. It is also a good short “homework” assignment to have students find out where the closest free wi-fi is located in relation to their house.
- Use transparency. Make sure you let your administrators, IT department, and parents know how you plan to use technology in your classroom. Including all stakeholders in what is going on in your class will ensure an overall good experience. Never let your principal be surprised that your class is blended.
- Check your tech. Before teaching a lesson, make sure everything works on your school network. Impersonate the student experience as much as possible in order to catch any issues before class. Even if you check your tech, having a backup plan is never a bad idea.
- Keep students’ privacy a priority. The tools you choose to incorporate must keep information private and not loan out student data to third party companies. Furthermore, you should not post student pictures on an open network. Also, it’s not a bad idea to check out your school division’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) to make sure you aren’t violating any rules.
- Set the expectations. Clear instructions and examples, coupled with a rubric and quality resources makes for a positive experience. Anytime students are working with online resources to complete a task, they should be provided checkpoints along the way.
- Incorporate meaningful learning experiences with quality content and resources. which means don’t just use tech to use tech. Cut the fluff. Don’t let tech be the “babysitter.” The activity should achieve a learning objective. Think about how overwhelming the Internet can be when doing research….provide some good starting points for students.
- Be a content curator and creator. Put together the best resources for each of your class’ topics. If you can’t find a resource you really like, get in front of the camera yourself. Don’t really like getting in front of the camera? No problem! There are plenty of other tools out there that can help you curate topics. Some places to check out for content curation include Pinterest, Symbaloo, and Educlipper.
- Model digital citizenship along the way. Navigating society is significantly different than even five years ago. The lessons you teach your students in the classroom need to be useful somewhere other than the end of course test they must pass. Common Sense Media has tons of resources on digital citizenship.
- Monitor progress. Of course monitor your students’ progress but don’t forget about your own! Self-reflection is key to making adjustments as you go. It’s perfectly okay to take small steps towards incorporating more and more technology until it’s a seamless part of your classroom.
- Adjust after you’ve had a moment to reflect on what’s going well and what needs improvement. Be honest with yourself and seek student feedback. Then make adjustments as necessary.
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