Are you a blended learning rookie? No worries, everyone has to start somewhere!
If the concept of combining online and offline learning resources in your lesson plans seems scary or foreign, the following four tips are a great way to take that first step toward gaining comfort, familiarity, and trust.
Read below the break to check out four quick best practices for any educator new to the blended learning field.
1) Put your learning cap on
Now, you’ve probably heard all about how blended learning (aka hybrid learning) can be an instructional force multiplier in the classroom. However, the process of integrating educational technology and traditional instruction methods may seem quite daunting, whether you are brand-new to the classroom or an experienced educator just dipping your toe into the “blended learning” water.
So, what better place is there to just jump right in than online? The web provides a massive amount of great beginner blended learning reading materials, including:
- “What is blended learning?” – Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Learning
- The Blend My Learning blog
- “The Definition of Blended Learning” - ThinkThought
The above three links are just a small sampling of the helpful blended learning information available on the Internet. A simple Google search (like this one for “blended learning beginner”) is all you need to get on your way to finding tons of valuable resources!
2) Take the new technology for a test drive
Be aware that there is a good chance your students will adapt to the nuances and advantages of the blended classroom a little faster than you.
With that thought in mind, be sure to take time to sit down and try out your tech resources in both roles: student and teacher. Work through the tech-based portion of the lesson as the student and as the teacher a few times over.
During your trial runs, take the time to:
- Work through all processes in each website, program, and software that your students will need to use
- See how long it takes to shift from online to offline learning environrments (and vice versa)
- Look for kinks, bugs, things that need special notice, tricky sections, etc. that you can warn your students about
- Read through all instruction manuals for any hardware that you and/or the students will be expected to utilize
Taking these easy steps will give you a feel for both the functionality and the instruction process of the new tools and settings (that you can also share with your students).
Also, don't hesitate to utilize the tech support features provided by your educational technology. Almost all tech companies provide some form of support. By simply calling, emailing, or chatting in your questions and comments, you can often receive quick troubleshooting strategies and help.
3) Consult your peers for support
Did you find yourself saying, “How do I try out the new technology if I don’t even know how to use it,” after that last tip?
If your response is “yes”, this next tip is just for you! Simply put, don’t be afraid to ask your fellow educator peers for help and ideas. They can offer you some valuable tidbits and info that you may not have thought of before because they will be answering your questions from the educator perspective.
Here are a few ways that your peers and you can work together to make your new blended learning model a successful endeavor:
- Attend workshops:
Small train-the-trainer seminars where teachers unfamiliar with blended learning can get up to speed
- Partner with a more experienced teacher:
If one (or more) of your peers has experience in a blended learning classroom, don't be afraid to seek out their mentorship
- Join a study group:
If there are other inexperienced teachers, see if they are willing to form a study group to discuss and help one another learn and master the new initiatives
4) Have (and maintain) a patient and open mind
Lastly, be willing to fail and trip up a couple times with this new instructional model. As we all know, technology isn’t perfect, and there will be times that hardware crashes and software glitches throw off your lesson plans.
Don’t give up on the spot! We promise, more times than not, your classroom's induction of educational technology will benefit student learning.
More Blended Learning Resources from Wowzers
Hopefully these steps have helped you narrow down your iPad math content search. Don't forget to check out the blended learning section of the Wowzers Blog to read more about blended learning best practices and more!