Blended learning combines traditional instructional methods with instructional technology that supports a continuum of learning task changes that were previously impossible before the inclusion of technology in the instructional program. It is important to recognize that learning is not based on technology itself, but technology can enhance learning if it is used to level up learning tasks by increasing the depth of knowledge level required to accomplish a learning task. For example, a worksheet alone is not a demonstration of mastery of a standard. Alternatively, by providing several entry points and a variety of end-point products, technology has the potential to create new possibilities for learner voice and demonstration of growth toward mastery.
The brand of technology or the name of an application matter far less than the use of the technology and the use of the application within the existing instructional framework. In order to make the best use of technology, the curriculum must remain the road map of the instructional program. We cannot lose sight of the learning standards and the learning outcomes that frame our instruction. These standards and outcomes represent the goals that we want our learners to know and be able to do. For this reason, we need to call for using a sequence of replacement of paper-based learning with technology-infused opportunities to collaborate and model learner thinking. The most successful blended learning classrooms did not shift overnight – they evolved over time. Infusing technology into the curriculum and the classroom instructional routines will generate long-term changes that support learner independence over time.
Below are some tips for what the blended classroom should support within the instructional program. There are best practices for use of technology in learning. What we ask our learners to do with technology matters greatly. As we find ourselves one fifth of the way through the 21st century, our conversations need to shift from those of the outdated “21st century learning” hopes and dreams to actual infusion of such values into the instructional program, with technology serving as an integrated tool for learning through an integrated curriculum where no content takes place in isolation.
If you have questions about how to infuse technology into the instructional program, contact Emily Erickson-Betz here, at strategiclearningsolutions.com or on Twitter @emilybetz.