Saturday, September 03, 2005

Is blended learning a good thing for K-12?

Blended learning aims to put together the best of online and traditional practices for teaching and learning. Is this a good thing in K-12?

30 comments:

Pat Reed said...

Yes, but it is a bit more limited than it would be in a university scenario. In a university, you are dealing with adults, who should take responsibility for their own learning. Children in K-12 don't necessarily do that independently. For some students, particularly those who are a bit older and more self-motivated, blended learning as described in the Powerpoint is ideal. But for other students, the need for F2F is critical until they gain the maturity necessary to begin exploring resources and enrichment opportunities available on the web independently and on their own time.

shannonf said...

Yes, I think it is a good practice. It gets the students involved in technology at an early age. I was not introduced to the net and email until I started college. This is an unheard of practice now in today's schools. Kids start with email and net games or searches in elementary.

I think any technology is a great this as long as the teacher is comfortable with it and the learners gets something from it. Technology should not be used to overwhelm learners or complicate lessons. It should support the learning and be integrated in a way that is not even noticeable but smooth to all involved.

C. J. Watson said...

I believe that technology is an important part of our society and a district that does not introduce it to the students is doing a great disservice. The amount of technology exposure should be gaged on the level of the students (grade, age, technology experience).

Kim said...

Yes, students can experience the best of both worlds. They can have a personal interaction with a classroom teacher while experiencing technology as it will be used in a real life setting. One large aspect which worries me about leaning too much on blended learning in K-12, is when the written word is misinterpreted by students or teachers. As children in K-12 need to see a teacher who is excited about learning because a large part of education is to build life long learners. Can a student catch a teacher's enthusiasm over the web?

Evelyn Morrison said...

Yes, best practices of both online and traditional methods is always a good thing. High school though is much different than college level. We have varying degrees of motivation in our classes for both traditional and online methods. Some kids will have the self-motivation necessary for online environments outside the classroom but certainly not all will.

Norma said...

As you all say, blended learning in K12 is a challenge, which needs to be addressed, since it is coming. It does not involve replacing the teacher, because it is not distance learning, and it does not involve letting kids do all by themselves,.. but the right blend should be the target... hard to figure out what the right blend is? may be.. but not impossible..

Ben Leven said...

I think it is a great thing for K-12 students to use. Students nee dboth the F2F discussions and the computer skills in order to compete in today's society for good jobs. As teachers we try to find ways for our students to succeed, some of them are visual learners, some are auditory, there are spatial learners, and well you get the point. By putting online and trditional practices together we can further help a student succeed.

Rhonda Hall said...

I feel like we have discussed this question several times. While I believe there is a place for blended learning at the K-12 level, I'm not sure how heavy the emphasis should be at the primary level. Originally I thought, blended learning for kindergarteners.........no way. But I am finding myself more open to the idea. There might really be some kg kids who would find web enhancement the ideal learning mode. I think it could help to identify the preferred method of learning for those kids. I also think socialization is key in primary grades. Those children need to learn "everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten."

Steve said...

Blended learning is definitely a good thing for K-12 students. I will echo the sentiments of many of my peers in that I agree that finding "the right blend" is key, and I agree that using technology does appeal to different types of learners. We should also remember that a blended learning component of an early elementary curriculum can be made to look and feel very much like other learning materials of that level.

Amy Benish said...

I have been thinking about that question throughout the course. I teach in higher ed and have taught my course in a blended format for the past year. I can truly say that it is beneficial for my students and me. The students I teach are education majors and will eventually have a K-12 class. I haven't had any student express to me that he or she will use a course management system in his or her class (especially) elementary. I am glad to have this class to see how K-12 teachers can utilize a course management system.

I can definitely see the use of a classroom website for communication with parents and students. I also see resources such at FURL to collect websites for students to use in and out of the classroom being extremely helpful.

One area that I truly see course management systems benefiting K-12 teachers is professional development. I am working with a project to put induction courses for new teachers online. My recommendation is to make it blended instead of purely online. Because of the busy lifes of teachers, the online comment can be a tool to connect teachers and provide training.

patti said...

I agree with the majority of comments already posted that blended learning is a good thing for K-12 and that the issue is more a matter of how much blending is appropriate. Of course there is no one answer because what works for one class or age level won't necessarily work for another. As with most things in life, moderation. Too much or too little is not a good thing, but some of each in just the right amount is the best.

ferratier said...

I agree that blended learning can lead to some positive results in the K-12 classroom, but we shouldn't overlook the fact that school is not just where kids go to learn reading, writing, and math. In school (particularly public school) students learn how to get along with others, how to follow rules, and how to function as part of a community.
On top of that (forgive the cynicism!) public schools are the largest free baby-sitting service in the world. The "perfect" model of blended learning that Norma described in her presentation could never exist in public schools becuase there is that daily face-to-face interaction. I think the best we could hope for would be the "web-add-on" approach that Norma discussed.

Norma said...

Triggered by Amy's comments, I wonder how are pre service teachers prepared to integrate technology.
The use of technology (or the lack of it) by a teacher is many times blamed on the fact that "teachers teach as they were taught" (feels like blaming the mother, right?)
Do you think that today pre service teachers are exposed to new models, new ways of teaching, that will change their teaching approaches when they are in front of the classroom? Or is the traditional approach still too heavy in pre service teachers, that technology integration will need to be part of professional development or post graduate courses?

Rhonda Hall said...

Norma, I can tell you based on the student teachers I have had the past 3 years that they are definitely not prepared to utilize blended learning. I have seen most of them encourage the use of power point with the students and, of course, research, but that is about the extent of it.

Hyung Ro said...

If we look at education with a long-term vision, blended learning will end up being a good thing for K-12 students. I believe things start moving to where highschool students will be required to have portions or all of their lessons from the web. Blended learning provides a sense of engagement and student ownership. However, there are several big hurdles for blended learning to fully be emerged into a curriculum for these grade levels. Blended learning is dependent on teacher buy-in. In addition, in order for blended learning to reach its full height of success in K-12 schools, there are equality issues related to availablitiy and finances which are pretty hard to handle even without the idea of blended learning.

nancym said...

I would say it is both. It is appropriate in the classroom , as a means of learning for all students, but it is also an opportunity for students to learn independently , outside the classromm. As a middle school teacher, I would never allow 11 & 12 year olds to explore on their on, while they are under my supervision. We have had problems in the past with student deliberately accessing unsuitable sites. Unfortunatley, this leads to less access for the good student , who would not engage in such activities ( on purpose).
What sites students access outside of the classroom is an issue that needs to be resolved between student and parents.
People need technology to function in today's society. Blending traditional methods with technology is a great beginning.However, at the K-12 level, the teacher will remain a more important force inh learning than technology. Until independence is taught, few students will be successful without the help of a teacher. Tech is just another too we are able to add to a lonf list of learning methods.

Amy Higgins said...

I agree with everyone that blended learning is good to use with kids in K-12. How much blended learning should be used is up to the individual teacher. I think this amount could be different, depending on the students the teachers has. Some students would take to this quite easily, while others might struggle with the added independence of blended learning. I think the older the students are, the more likely blended learning would work with them.
As to preservice teachers having more training to use blended learning, I don't think that is the case. I graduated 5 years ago, and we never discussed how to integrate technology into our classrooms. The observers and student teachers that we've had in our building (most from the U of I) don't seem to be learning this, either. It's nice to know that some colleges (like Amy B's) are teaching this. It's going to be more and more important as time goes on, I think.

Debby H said...

I also think that blended learning is good for K-12. WE need to start to work with kids at a young age to get them to realize the potential of the internet. I have seen studetns as young as third grade make power point presentations. I like the idea of getting them comfortable with technology at a young age.
As the students progress through school they should be able to use the web as a resource just as if it were a paper encyclopedia. They need to learn how to differentiate good information from bad and how to cite their sources. These are all things that we have been talking about this summer. It is important for them to learn this early and use it often.

Cheryl Cheifetz said...

I think the concept is a good one, but I am not sure it is age appropriate in the K-6 forum. Once technology becomes a way of life (and I believe it will) at an early age, it will be very easy to establish blended learning classrooms at the lower grade levels. Accessibility is currently another issue that I think will disappear in the future as well. To prepare students for the real world, technology should be integrated as much as possible. High school students and beyond should work in blended learning environments in order to give them experiences with technology that will carry over into their careers.

Max Uhls said...

Blended learning has more advantages than disadvantages. The good far outweighs the bad. My Statistics class is a blended learning class. We spend the first part of the week learning the theory of statistics. Then we have a lab day at the end of the week to put the theory into practice using the Internet and Moodle as its platform. Comments from students are positive - some of those comments have reached the ears of our principal, who is very pleased.

Debby H said...

Max, I think it is great that you use blended learning in your classes now. Having switched from Social studies to special ed, I am having a bit of a problem intergrating tech with my students. They are in reg ed courses for the most part, I do teach a reading course and, of course, resource for a few. Since they are labled with BD, I am finding it hard to come up with good stuff for them. This year, resource cannot be a homework hour. Limits me a bit, but I'm always looking for more. If I could get them in front of the computer, no matter what they were doing, I think they would no only love it, they would learn.

alex vavouliotis said...

I think that K-12 is too broad of an age range to comment on. That means that we are looking at 5 year olds, and 18 year olds. I think that blended learning should and can be used in all of these grades, but I think that more technology learning can be integrated as the students get older. It always amazes me to see what the kindergarteners can do on the computer. Since computers are now so afforadable, I think that it even makes more sense for computer use to begin as young as possible. 3 year olds play on the computer at home, there is no reason they can't do it to learn stuff at school too.

jjakob said...

After reading the many comments in this post, I feel that most educators do see the value of blended learning at this level. Although it may be difficult for many of us to realize, the incorporation of technology into learning for students today and in the future will not be difficult for the students; they already learn from blended learning and will continue to do so. We as teachers need to adapt, not the other way around.
Children learn from interaction with parents and peers at an early age. Although this is face to face, younger children are learning from sources, educational games, and peers using the web at home. Today, children learn reading and writing in a blended environment. Putting down books and papers, today and tomorrow's children will click, read, and type even earlier than they do today. If this mode of learning is fostered at an early age and proves successful, teachers should continue this style at the K-12 level.
There are negative aspects; a digital divide does exist. Some students will not have the access to these technologies, but we can address this issue and work towards closing the digital divide by introducing technology through blended learning for all students at an early age so the gap does not increase further. Waiting until high school or after to introduce technology will only hurt students.

Dale Donner said...

I would have to say I agree with Pat. The older the student the more blended learning will be effective. Although I believe that learning in a variety of different styles will be very advantageous to most students, the truth is the older the student, the more learning will occur in these different techniques. If a student is too young, many times they will become too entertained or sidetracked by the new/different style of being taught.

Becky said...

Yes, blended learning is a good thing for K-12. Pat's comment about motivation is truly something to be considered when proceeding in this direction. Also more direction will be needed for younger students regardless of their motivation level. Another issue I believe affects the success of blended learning is the reliability of the technology infrastructure. I can’t image anything more frustrating than having a lesson plan that incorporates using the web to compliment the lesson only to find that the network is down or running to slow to be helpful. If students have to wait to long for the information – their attention or interest will be lost.

jess said...

I agree with Jakob's comments. He brought up a good point about children being raised in a blended environment. It is the teacher that needs to adapt to this environment.
I believe it is going to be a neccessity for teachers to use blended learning in k-12 very soon. Already, some schools are moving to new technology initiatives. For instance, teachers at my school received tablet PCs this year, and next year every h.s. student will have a laptop. Blended learning will be required in my school. It's on our goals, evaluations, and school improvement plan.

jess said...
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Carolyn's Reflections . . . said...

As mrs. cheifetz points out, and as we discussed Tues., accessibility is a problem – especially with elementary students. Which is precisely why I agree with Alex, K-12 is much to large a range to consider for this question. High schoolers are more mobile, can get to the library, go to school early or stay late to work in the lab, to have access to computers if one is not available at home. Younger children, even through middle school, have more difficulty gaining access. This would be a factor contributing to the digital divide among students and one that any school would hopefully be loathe to encourage no matter how beneficial a technology blended learning experience might be.

I do think that introducing elementary and middle school students to blended learning in a more traditional sense, via different modes – including technology – and pedagogy is important. However, to require it is more suited for the high school age students where technology blended learning will be engaging and help prepare them for college and/or the work force.

Tricia Pearl said...

I looked at blended learning from the perspective of a third grade to help me decide that blended learning is important to have in an elementary classroom. In the elementary grades, blended learning can simply mean integrating technology into lessons. It also means differentiating instruction by determining students' learning styles and interests and finding the appropriate tools to use when having students complete activities and products. At times, this may mean incorporating a website into a research project for one student or showing a video to another student. Since blended learning's goal is to interest and reach all learners, and it's advantages include flexibility and the teacher as the facilitator, there is no question in my mind that blended learning belongs in the elementary classroom.

Brad Frey said...

I think that it would be foolish to say that blended learning is NOT a good thing for K-12. But how we use blended learning and who teaches it are very important points. Other concerns about implementing more blended learning in K-12 range from how much to include, where are the funds to use blended learning coming from and how comfortable are teachers with technology so that they can teach. Students are tech savvy, can teachers reach the same level as the students? In fact, don't teachers need to surpass the technological level of their students. We have 13 teachers in our CTER cohort, shouldn't every teacher out there be reaching out for more tech training.