Blended Learning: Strategies for Implementation
Implementing a blended learning model in your classroom can be a powerful method to more effectively personalize student learning. But diving into blended learning can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult even to decide where to start. First, it’s important to understand exactly what blended learning — and, by extension, personalized learning — are, and how they relate. While there are a variety of definitions circulating in education technology spaces on these terms, we think these definitions are a good place to begin:
Personalization: The learner and the teacher collaborate to drive learning and determine needs, plan, and learning design.
Blended Learning: A mix of technology and face-to-face instruction. It combines brick-and-mortar classroom learning with online learning, and students have some control over the time, pace, and place of their learning.
Note that in the above, “personalization” is understood as a process or an ongoing action, and “blended learning” is a specific approach or model. While both exist on a continuum of practices, and can take shape in a variety of forms, blended learning is an excellent way to more effectively drive towards your goals in the journey to personalizing learning for students.
For more definitions and a deeper dive into personalized learning, check out this guide:
Blended learning is flexible, and can be implemented in a variety of ways. When examining blended learning models, it’s important to keep the student needs, teacher comfort, and available resources in mind. Ultimately, your blended learning model — or models, depending on your preference! — should boost engagement, give students control over time, place, and pace of learning, and drive towards deeper personalization.
While there are many ways to implement blended learning, we’re going to focus on three here: station rotation, whole group rotation, and flipped classrooms.
In station rotation, the educator breaks a classroom of students up into smaller learning communities. Each small group of students collaborates on a single task in each station, and rotates to complete each task in the allotted class time. The station rotation method allows teachers to easily adapt tasks based on student needs, and use technology in a variety of ways in a single class time.
To learn more about station rotation, check out this video from Catlin Tucker, a blended learning expert, bestselling author, and teacher:
Whole Group Rotation
Whole group rotation is similar to station rotation, in that it allows educators to move from task to task, but does not require that students form small groups. This approach is appropriate for teachers who don’t feel that they have the resources or class size to actively facilitate multiple small group discussions happening at once. However, it still enables the educator to creatively and purposefully use technology and face-to-face instruction. For more on whole group instruction, check out Catlin Tucker’s overview video:
A flipped classroom really focuses on the use of online and distance learning. In a flipped classroom, educators will design a learning experience where the “knowledge transfer” — which often translates to a recorded or interactive lecture — from home, using technology. Then, students will engage with and explore the content in a face-to-face, brick and mortar learning environment during class time. Guest blogger Stacey Roshan discusses her journey with flipping a math classroom in this blog, and Catlin Tucker provides an example in her ELA class in the video below:
In any blended learning classroom, learning should be dynamic, engaging, and flexible. Technology should be incorporated with purpose, and fit into a larger learning design that places personalization as a top priority.
Selecting purposeful technology is as important as selecting an appropriate method or construction a meaningful learning design. Check out the piece below to discover how multiple solutions can work together to support your classroom: