There are a lot of trends uses of emerging technologies that have a large impact on learning environments in K-12 schools. I’m going to blog about how all those emerging technologies have an impact on my innovative plan (Innovative Plan) featuring the station rotation via blended learning. There are many reasons why blended learning is making its way into classrooms across the country. Teachers, parents and students alike recognize the benefits with a mix of online and in classroom, teacher-led learning. These benefits include:
- Parent involvement – Parents have a greater ability to participate in their children’s education. With online learning, parents are able to interact and view their child’s progress as well as see what is being taught day in and day out.
- Convenience and flexibility – A blended learning approach students are offered more flexibility. If they are sick, if there is a snow day or if a family takes an extended vacation, online learning can offer a convenient way to learn away from the classroom cutting down on the amount of make-up work or missed instruction a student has to deal with when they return to the classroom.
- Personalization – By far one of the most touted benefits of blended learning is the ability for personalization. Students can learn at their own pace and advance as fast as they want, not having to be held back by others in the classroom that may be at a different level. Similarly, if a student needs extra instruction in a certain area, blended learning ensures that that student is able to gain the extra instruction they require and grasp the concept before moving along to the next level.
- Ability to teach to all learning styles in one classroom – For teachers this is one of the greatest benefits of blended learning, teaching to all students no matter what their learning style.
Shawn Rubin, director of blended learning for the nonprofit Highlander Institute sums it up perfectly in an article in The Hechinger Report, “When it’s done right, the student is at the center of everything and becomes the driver of his or her own learning. The most difficult job for any teacher is how to differentiate instruction. That means understanding how each student learns best, meeting students where they are and helping them grasp a concept or master a skill at just the right moment. A smart use of technology and ed-tech tools can help teachers figure out how their students are doing day to day, hour to hour, even minute to minute. Blended learning can provide teachers with crucial feedback that enables them to intervene with greater precision and effectiveness and customize learning for their students (Jordan, 2015).”
The station rotation includes online instruction, teacher-led instruction, and other collaborative activities and stations. The station rotation model works anytime and anywhere. Anthony Kim of EDSurge says that “Station rotation works well within the constraints of existing school buildings. You don’t need different sizes and shapes of classrooms to implement a rotational model. You can do it in classrooms today. It is understandable to teachers. Station-based learning is not a foreign concept, and is a great way to dip your toes in the water and explore the benefits of better differentiation through digital content. It’s also a change that is feasible to implement at any point of the year because it doesn’t have space requirements. With the right support and tools, a rotational model works for any teacher. It enables teachers to use data to change how they are teaching and in a way that is sustainable. It allows teachers to make decisions about what groups students should be in based on where they are in mastering a given concept, and it lets them re-group constantly, and differentiate all the time. A rotational model can also work in any subject. In fact, multi-subject implementation can build habits and cultures for both students and for teachers, vs. a single-subject implementation. Teachers can collaborate, administrators and leaders can provide coaching and support. If blended learning is happening in most or all classrooms in a given school, it becomes a new way of teaching and learning across the board, rather than an isolated event (Kim, 2014).” I believe this plan will improve the education system on the elementary level in specific content areas.
Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker’s (2015) Blended: Using Disruptive Innovations to Improve Schools is a blueprint for designing, implementing, and assessing blended learning and its techniques in K-12 schools. They define blended learning as any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace (2015, p. 34). Second, the student learns at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 35). And third, the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 35). The rotation model consists of any course or subject in which students rotate—either on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion—among learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 38). Students will do the rotation model within a contained classroom or even a group of classrooms. Students rotate through all of the stations which include online instruction, teacher-led instruction, and other collaborative activities and stations. Below is an example of a station rotation model:
Mary Meeker, a partner at Venture Capital (VC) firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), reports in Internet Trends 2014 at the Code Conference that personalized education is “ramping.” Meeker explains that people learn in different ways and that the Internet offers many options—on their own terms and at a low cost—to many, with real-time feedback (s. 26). In that same report, Meeker mentions that more than 25 million people use the Duolingo application to learn new languages. Meeker also states that online courses help the learning process for both teachers and students. Mary Meeker supports transformation in students’ learning environments in emerging education-related technologies, like blended learning.
EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) provides user data, higher education technology trends and practices, and collaboration opportunities for IT professionals and higher education leaders. ECAR has surveyed undergraduate students and faculty annually since 2004 about technology in higher education. ECAR has collaborated with various institutions to collect responses from tens of thousands of undergraduate students and faculty across 13 countries. According to Dahlstrom’s (2012) ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, students say that blended learning environments are not only the norm, but also best support how they learn. In a report by ECAR, 75,000 students were surveyed and said they learned best with a blend of online and face-to-face work (Dahlstrom et al., 2014). Today’s students have more internet devices now than ever, and they are ready to use them for academic purposes. The ECAR studies also present the challenges in the practices and uses of emerging technologies which include but are not partial to limited mobile-friendly resources and activities, limited professional development and training opportunities (Dahlstrom, 2012), infrastructure barriers such as lack of charging outlets and/or charging stations and insufficient network access, privacy issues (Dahlstrom et al., 2013), and the potential for distraction (Dahlstrom et al., 2014).
Johnson, Adams, and Cummins (2012) find that education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models, the cost of technology is dropping, and that there is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based, active learning (p. 7, 8). That same report also emphasizes the need for students to get a well-rounded education with real world experiences and informal in-class activities as well as learn to learn outside the classroom (p. 9). They also feel that the role of the teacher needs to be reevaluated. Teachers are increasingly expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based practices for content delivery, learner support, and assessment, to collaborate with other teachers, to use digital strategies in their work with students, to act as guides and mentors to promote student-centered learning, and to organize their own work and comply with administrative documentation and reporting requirements. Students, along with their families, add to these expectations through their own use of technology. As this trend and challenge gains popularity, many schools across the world are rethinking the primary responsibilities of teachers (Johnson et al., 2014, p. 6).
Let’s not forget about the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). An organization dedicated to supporting the use of information technology to aid in the learning and teaching of K-12 students and teachers. ISTE has continued to support educators as they navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional learning and technology. In 2007 the ISTE published a book Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools, authors Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum. They say that students are strong believers in the power of technology to enrich their learning experiences. They also say that students have ideas about their futures that include using technology tools for learning and preparing themselves for a competitive job market (p. 27). There solution to this is using collaboration and communication tools with educational methods that also promote these skills—such as project-based learning and blended learning—to help students acquire the abilities they need for the future (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p. 18).
Teaching and Learning with Technology by authors Judy Lever-Duffy and Jean B. McDonald (2011), provides a look at the range of educational technologies available for use in today’s classrooms, and the many ways technology can be used to effectively improve teaching and learning. One of the ideas that Lever-Duffy and McDonald explore is virtual reality worlds in education. There is a tremendous potential for teachers and students to be able to take a full-immersion field trip to another country, the bottom of the ocean, another planet or even inside the human body (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2011, p. 371). Check out Google helping with virtual reality:
Last but not least, the U.S. Department of Education has established that students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction (Bakia et al., 2012, p. A-12). The department also confirmed that instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction (Bakia et al., 2012, p. A-12).
In conclusion, this document and its finding conclude that the use of technology in education is on the rise, and the adoption of blended learning in K-12 schools and higher education is not only growing, but it is also changing the way students learn. Although many drawbacks like elevated control costs, lack of training, and limited infrastructure limit the implementation of a model like blended learning, they do not outweigh the rewards. The Station Rotation model, has proven to provide equal or greater academic and social achievement results. Students learn through a blended learning model than through face-to-face instruction only. The goal here, is to improve students’ learning experiences and environments. I believe my plan will do just that.
Bakia, M., Shear, L., Toyama, Y., & Lasseter, A. (2012). Understanding the Implications of
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Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools (First ed.). Eugene,
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Jordan, J. D. (2015, July 9). What’s Next: Blended Learning 2.0. Retrieved September 9 , 2016, from The Hechinger Report: http://hechingerreport.org/whats-next-blended-learning-2-0/
Kim, A. (2014, June 3). Rotational Models Work for Any Classroom. Retrieved September 9, 2016, from EdSurge: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-06-03-opinion-rotational-models-work-for-any-classroom