Digital Learning

I found this week’s article Keeping Pace very informative. There was a lot of information in the article that I want to go back and explore when I have more time.  Initially the online experience was provided mainly for students that had health or behavioral issues, for credit recovery and for home-schooled students. There has been a big shift in the digital learning focus in the last 15 years.  Instead of focusing mainly on students with behavior issues and credit recovery, online learning is now focusing on providing additional courses for students.  Students now have the opportunity to access more Advanced Placement and dual enrollment classes while still attending their regular school.

The supplemental online courses are the foundation of the virtual schools. These courses are beneficial to students that wish to remain in their local school but also want to take advantage of courses that are not available at their schools. Virtual Virginia is going to pilot a “full-time” online course. The pilot will offer all of the required courses for grades 9–12, while the student remains enrolled in their local school.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the iNACOL website.   iNACOL is a nonprofit organization that is seeking to transform education as we know it.  I was particularly drawn to the following statement on the Our Work section of the website:   “New learning models have the potential to dramatically improve student outcomes by providing high-quality, scalable education opportunities. These models optimize and personalize education, ultimately improving access and equity for all students.”

 After clicking on the link to find out more about these new learning models I found a great article: iNACOL’s New Learning Models Vision.   This short article discusses the powerful promise of blended and online learning as a means to transform the educational system.   The goal is to enable higher levels of learning through a competency based approach. There was a discussion of technology-based models that can allow student performance data to be collected and then the instruction can be differentiated and tailored to the needs of the individual student.

 Under the Resources Heading I was captivated by the topic of Blended Learning. I believe that blended learning is part of what I am trying to accomplish with my flipped classroom.  I downloaded the PowerPoint of the webinar A Day in the Life of a Blended Learning Teacher. The webinar followed two teachers through a typical day in a blended classroom. One teacher was a 7th grade teacher and the other was a high school science teacher. The presentation focused on the following topics:

  • How to personalize the teaching for students (e.g. room arrangement, teacher interaction, communication with students)
  • How to use data on a daily / weekly basis to personalize learning for students
  • How to use a variety of technologies to help students access course content
  • How to interact with students (e.g. grouping, via course management system, email, in person, etc.)

The blog I chose to read,  Education Transformation: From One-Size-Fits-All to Student-Centered Learning was under the blended learning tag. The author believes that blended learning is a shift in the instructional model towards a more personalized learning experience for students. Blended learning combines the strengths of both the classroom resources and the online resources.   She also believes that the blended learning design encourages greater teacher–student and student-student interaction. The author goes on to say that the most important part of blended learning is the element of student control. The model allows for increased student-centered learning. One statement the author made really stuck with me, “Building on competency-based instructional designs, blended learning should ensure that failure is not an option and offer immediate interventions when a student is not demonstrating mastery.”    I love this statement!

After reading through the webinar presentation and the blog I was really inspired by what these teachers were doing in their classrooms.  While I have been working for the past several years to develop a flipped classroom, I am now getting really excited by the idea of a blended classroom.  I am excited to explore more Blended Learning resources on the iNACOL website!

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