Making Learning Personal:

A Blended Learning Course

An introduction to the what, how and why of student personalized learning with a focus on using a blended environment to leverage classroom technology.

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This course is offered through Schoology Learning Management System. 

 

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Online Learning Examples:

  1. EduHero - Eduhero is a fully customized website built by Region 6 Education Service Center in Texas, aiming to help school districts and businesses learn material through engaging on-demand courses. It provides activities, videos, and questions giving teachers the ability to take courses from the comfort of their own home.

  2. E-learning for Kids -  E-learning for kids is a global, nonprofit foundation dedicated to fun and free learning on the internet for children ages 5 - 12. They offer free, best-in-class courseware in math, science, reading and keyboarding.

  3. Coursera - Online courses that include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. When you complete a course, you’ll receive a shareable electronic Course Certificate.

  4. Texas Teachers of Tomorrow - Alternative teacher certification course.

  5. PBS TeacherLine -  Facilitated and self-paced PD courses designed to benefit both beginning and experienced teachers. Topics include science, reading, social studies, math, instructional strategies, and instructional technology.

  6. Discovery Education Academies - Online training for teachers that offers best practices in using digital content to implement standards, digital resources for immediate classroom integration, practical implementation strategies, leadership applications and more.

  7. Google for Education Teacher Center - Online training modules to prepare teachers to take the Google Level 1, Level 2 and Google Trainer Exams.

  8. Microsoft Educator Community - Microsoft Edu courses that focus on how to use tools as well as courses that are more pedagogy based and designed to teach you how to integrate technology into your instruction.

Learning Reflections:

     At first, many people think they understand online learning.  After all isn’t it simply learning online? Instead of a teacher in a classroom lecturing and giving out assignments and tests, aren’t students simply doing the same thing within an LMS or other digital platform?  Well not exactly. In his book Teaching in a Digital Age, Tony Bates expresses the importance of understanding online learning (Bates, 2015). It is not simply the equivalent of face to face instruction in a digital form.  Instead, he explains that teaching must change if we are to prepare students for an unknown future that will primarily rely on flexible, knowledge based workers. These skills, also known as 21st century skills, include students learning how to learn independently and being able to work with a group. Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and creative “out of the box” thinking will also be necessary. With these skills in mind, the design of online courses becomes just as important as the content within.  

    

     Several models are discussed for consideration when designing online courses such as the ADDIE model, OCL (online collaborative learning), CoI (community of inquiry learning), competency based learning, flexible design models and MOOCS.  Each model has its own advantages and possible disadvantages, however Bates emphasizes the importance of moving away from knowledge consumption and memorization to knowledge construction and analysis which enables students to construct their own concepts and ideas.  

    

     UbD (Understanding by design) is a framework for structuring curriculum and instruction. It encourages teachers to think purposefully about designing curriculum (McTighe & Wiggins, 2018) . There are three main stages involved in UbD. This backward design process includes identifying the desired results, determine assessment based on the learning objectives, and only then will they plan for learning and instruction. As I designed my course, I tried to keep the learning objectives in mind from the beginning. By establishing what I wanted my learners to ultimately learn, I was able to design modules that supported those goals. This process kept me focused on the big picture so that I could concentrate of facilitating student understanding and transfer of learning.

    

     When I consider the relevance and importance of online learning for students, I can’t help but to factor in how this mode of learning has advanced my own learning and how without it many of the opportunities I have experienced both personally and professionally would not have been possible. I believe that we are only beginning to realize the potential this type of learning environment can have on student learning.  Students will no longer be bound by physical or even social obstacles. There truly will be no limit to what students can learn and technology will allow them to learn anywhere at any pace. I consider it my responsibility to educate and explain the possibilities and advantages of blended and online learning to the leaders and teachers in my district. Although it seems like such an easy concept to understand, I know that it will take many small victories to move away from the ingrained traditional approach to learning and teaching of our current education system.

   

     This course has impacted my understanding and will impact my future teaching.  Although, I was previously supportive and basically got the concept of online instruction, this course has deepened my understanding and provided the key questions to consider and plan for when designing curriculum for students (or in my case for teachers). The one enduring understanding that I think created the biggest “aha” moment for me was understanding the importance quality design has on learning. The idea that just because it is online, does not make it any better than traditional face to face instruction. The care and planning involved in creating and fostering opportunities for learners is a heavy burden to consider when designing an online learning environment.  Reading Bates book and applying what I had learned from previous courses has made me realize that designing learning in any environment cannot be taken for granted. I hope to use this knowledge, not only as I plan for future courses, but also as I work with teachers in my district.

 

 

 

References:

Bates, A.W. (Tony). (2015). Teaching in a Digital Age. Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from

    https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2018). Retrieved from

    http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/UbD_WhitePaper0312.pdf