Blended Learning - Not A Band Aid Approach

Blended Learning Implementation - A Holistic Approach (Not A Band Aid Approach)

Leadership and administration must take a holistic approach (not a band aid approach) to blended learning implementation.  Real designs [ Lev Gonick reveals the importance of well designed instructional materials and professional development for educational users] 

Prior to Covid-19, teachers showed resistance to implementation of blended learning primarily because of the lack of professional development. There was a lack of technological resources and significant concerns for students’ self- regulation. Many school districts now boast technology-enhanced learning environments that may support self-regulated learning. They provide opportunities for interaction, allowing for feedback and self-monitoring, using a method of cognitive apprenticeship, and supporting self-efficacy beliefs. When addressing technology deficits, school leadership must also address self-regulation.  Back when we started[Michael Chasen chronicles the growth of online learning platforms, from skepticism at first through slow growth and gradual adaptation and now it's become a must-have]

In this video:A new way of learning,[ Michael Chasen further explains the long term effects of the Online Learning experience] Administration is encouraged to capitalize on the trend where tech-savvy teachers help others to acquire technology skills in the absence of formal training. They should encourage these keystone (cornerstone) educators because people, practices, values, and technology are interdependent and individual participants play a crucial role in shaping the stability of the emerging blended learning system. 

Recommendations for policy and practice

With increasing emphasis on 21st century technology standards, the standardization of educational curriculums and assessments, policymakers and educators must give urgent consideration to creating policies that lower systemic barriers to the implementation of blended learning. These policies should encourage funding for technology infrastructure and professional development resources, particularly for mathematics teachers in schools ranked in DFGs A, B, and CD. ( expansion of scope)

Establish Minimum Policy Standards for Blended Course Designs.

In order to minimize risk factors associated with blended learning integration and improve instructional outcomes for students in communities with the lowest SES rankings, policymakers and educators should establish minimum policy standards for blended course designs including the adoption of course codes for blended courses. This will facilitate data collection and research on blended learning. Most of the research on blended learning has targeted adult learners. Ready access to reliable data will help policymakers and administrators assess the cost effectiveness and pedagogical efficiency of blended learning. It will also help them to better understand variations in the experiences of K-12 blended learners and provide quantifiable evidence that learning outcomes are at least equal to traditional lecture-based instruction.

States should specify minimum teacher (course facilitator) qualifications, establish criteria for course assessment validity and reliability, establish minimum “virtual seat time” requirements, and vendor appraisal parameters. These policy standards may address significant teacher demands for pedagogical efficiency in blended learning designs, eliminate barriers due to existing seat time requirements and clarify the roles of certified teachers (facilitators) in blended course delivery. They may also address significant concerns for student self- regulation by establishing clear standards, monitoring mechanisms, and performance incentives [ Eric Yuan expresses the opportunities and transformation the online learning platform offers its users]

Breaking Down Barriers to Blended Learning Implementation

Despite the rapid growth of blended learning in post secondary institutions before Covid-19, there were systemic barriers to its implementation by New Jersey mathematics teachers in schools ranked in DFGs A, B, and CD. Covid-19 brings new optimism for blended learning implementation and has forced a change in many teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to blended learning integration. Many K12 schools have quickly learned how to minimize risk factors and improve instructional outcomes for these students in communities with the lowest socio economic status (SES) rankings. The optimism as explained by Deborah Quazzo (ASU+GSV) is mixed with concerns about digital equity. Lev Gonick addresses concerns regarding access and adoption of digital equity in Covid-19 era.  

Prior to Covid-19 teachers, students, and stakeholders in New Jersey high schools faced the same challenges implementing blended learning as those in post secondary institutions, including designing courses for optimal learning, facilitating teacher–student and student–student interactions, and facilitating effective technology integration and professional development. Understanding the experiences of high school teachers is an important prerequisite to effective blended course and design, since the effectiveness of blended learning is a function of audience, pedagogy, and subject matter. 

Educationally- effective blended learning course designs must align with the research literature, which indicates that, well designed blended learning models integrate the strengths of face to face instruction and computer mediated studies. Effective blended learning facilitates rigor, differentiation, real world application, and immediate feedback to students. There are many significant advantages of blended learning over face to face instruction, including increased student engagement, understanding, retention, and overall achievement. Delivery of learning [ Lev Gonick (ASU) outlines the digital transformation that has been enabled by Covid 19, and further explains the obsession of ASU to innovation of the online learning experience].


Digital Learning - Improve Mathematics Instruction

Digital Learning - Improve Mathematics Instruction and Lower The Achievement Gap

Given the views [ Lev Gonick compares the quality of online live remote  and its benefits to that of offline experience] Blended learning holds tremendous promise for improving New Jersey’s high school mathematics instruction and possibly the potential to lower the achievement gap between high and low socio-economic status (SES) school districts. Covid-19 has forced a faster convergence of educational policies to embrace 21st century technology standards, the standardization of educational curriculums and assessments. Policymakers and educators are now forced to give urgent consideration to lowering systemic barriers to implementation of blended learning. This includes providing needed funding and policies to support its implementation, as well as technology and professional development resources. Failure to do this may result in the continued disproportionate concentration of new technologies among students in higher SES school districts relative to lower SES districts.

As indicated here: The approach [Lev Gonick, indicates from ASU's perspective the support system in place for educators and entrepreneurs and the opportunities for innovation via their digital backpack of tools] If we can unlock the full potential of blended learning, this disruptive innovation could improve the efficiency, quality, and accessibility of education and become one of the most effective learning systems for teaching high school mathematics. This conclusion is supported by the teachers’ perceptions that the greatest value-added of blended models include improved pedagogy, increased rigor, greater differentiation, increased instructional effectiveness and pass rates.

It is imperative for administration and stakeholders to address the huge demands for more professional development and technology resources. The focus for professional development efforts needs to include learning management systems and strategies to combine the most effective elements of traditional instruction and virtual instruction. Failure to do this may result in poorly designed blended learning that intensifies the negative learning experience for students.

Professional learning should be designed around the mathematics course context, as learner orientations and processes in blended courses influence the meanings participants ascribe to blended learning (Paige Leigh McDonald, 2012). Professional learning designs must place emphasis on core values, practices, technologies, and the system of people in order to facilitate logical changes and continued growth within their information ecology(Nardi, Bonnie and O”Day, Vicki; 1999 p. 49; Watson, John, 2011[ 5] , p.15).

Funding for Professional Learning Designed Around the Mathematics Course Context[ 11] 

It is necessary to appropriate funding for professional learning that is designed around the mathematics course context, as learner orientations and processes in blended courses influence the meanings participants ascribe to blended learning (Paige Leigh McDonald, 2012). Policymakers and administrators should guide professional learning designs and ensure appropriate emphasis on practices and technologies within our information ecology that optimize blended course designs. Check empowerment [ Michael Chasen challenges users on the need to maximise opportunities with zoom for the upcoming generation too]

Edkairos Saves Teachers Valuable Time

Edkairos saves teachers valuable time and bridges the gaps between pedagogy (teaching) and technology in Math, English and Science.  The platform improves alignment between goals, learning activities and assessment. Edkairos will transform the learning experience through personalization based on learning styles, preferences and aptitude of every student. All features and benefits will align to three specific core attributes for teacher effectiveness - communication, engagement and assessment.

Communication:. The teacher links the instructional purpose of the lesson to the larger curriculum; the directions and procedures are clear and anticipate possible student misunderstanding. Students contribute to extending the content by explaining concepts to their classmates and suggesting strategies that might be used. Students contribute to the correct use of academic vocabulary. (Danielson)

Engagement: Virtually all students are intellectually engaged in challenging content through well-designed learning tasks and activities that require complex thinking by students. The teacher provides suitable scaffolding and challenges students to explain their thinking. The lesson has a clearly defined structure, and the pacing of the lesson provides students the time needed not only to intellectually engage with and reflect upon their learning but also to consolidate their understanding. (Danielson)

Assessment: Formative assessment is fully integrated into instruction. Questions and assessments are used regularly to diagnose evidence of learning by individual students. A variety of forms of feedback, from both teacher and peers, is accurate and specific and advances learning. Students self-assess and monitor their own progress. The teacher successfully differentiates instruction to address individual students’ misunderstandings. (Danielson)