Blended Learning: Is Rhode Island’s Future the Future in Education?

An excellent discussion of blended learning in Rhode Island here.

Highlights:

To be successful, experts agree, a blended learning program needs to have a clearly articulated vision from its educational leadership, the right technological tools and an in-depth professional development program for teachers.

…a growing need for more and better “curation” of the best ed-tech tools, programs and approaches. That way, teachers wouldn’t have to spend hours experimenting and trying to keep up with the exploding marketplace for blended learning, and could focus more on their students.

Blended learning can provide teachers with crucial feedback that enables them to intervene with greater precision and effectiveness and customize learning for their students.

Technology is just a tool for teaching and learning, not an end unto itself. Learning can be messy. Not all learning is linear and students have different needs and ways of communicating what they can do and what they don’t know. There is no technological substitute for the judgment of a good teacher.

Technology also can’t replace an educational vision. What are your goals? Are you trying to close achievement gaps? Are you emphasizing project-based learning? Are you trying to develop entrepreneurs? How are you using technology to help achieve those goals?

Right now, any teacher who is running blended learning well is managing a huge workload. The work is not sustainable for all, and many of our current classroom teachers can’t or won’t put in the hours necessary to run their classroom this way, especially if they don’t see tangible benefits to doing so.

State and district leaders must figure out ways to mobilize and organize collaboratively so that we can source both content and assessments with and for classroom teachers. Ed-tech products can be partners in this work, but ultimately the system must have local buy-in and local ownership if it’s going to stick.

It’s not enough to promote the expansion of blended classrooms; we must also equip teachers with the proper tools to make their systems manageable.

We need our building leaders to be driving blended learning change, which requires that superintendents take time-consuming administrative tasks off their plates so that principals can devote more energy to the shift to blended learning.

We also have to do a better job gathering data on how well these technologies are actually working.

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