In an ideal world, education would be structured around the individual learner. Each learner would receive personalized curriculum based on their interests and needs. Students would be able progress through the concepts at their own pace until mastery. In reality, the educational system is not structured for the individual, but rather a one size fits all model. So how can educators provide individualized instruction in a class of 20-30 students? Blended learning provides a way to allow personalized instruction. Blended learning is part online learning and part face-to-face learning in a brick and mortar location (Clayton Christensen Institute, 2015).
According to the NCM Horizon Report (2015), research indicates that blended learning is an effective mode of providing individualized instruction. Students are able to receive personalized learning through online instruction in the classroom. Teachers are able to provide support for students through small group or individualized instruction (Horizon, 2015). Schools where blended learning has been implemented are reaping the benefits. Not only are teachers able to provide one-on-one guidance, but are able to monitor student learning and be more innovative. Teachers are also reporting the positive impact blended learning has on students. Students are taking control of their learning and becoming more active participants (Horizon Report, 2014).
Naysayers may believe that blended learning environments are only beneficial for middle and high school, but the research shows otherwise. Spring City Elementary School in Pennsylvania was failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress when the district decided to implement blended learning. Their first year of implementation did not show progress, but they persevered. The following year test scores surged 24 points in Math, 20 points in Reading, and 27 points in Science (Boccella, 2015). Through the use of the Rotation model of blended learning, the teachers were able to provide more individualized attention and the students were able have access to personalized learning. Rocketship Education, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, has also shown success at the elementary level using blended learning. Students are performing significantly above average on the California Standards Test. Their schools are also ranked in the top 5 percent among schools with similar student populations (Paulson, 2014).
Blending learning allows for variation in different ways. Videos allow students to access remedial lessons. QR codes can be used to direct students to content that can be learned or applied. Quizzes can be given through online applications to provide immediate feedback (Thompson, 2015). Students can deepen their learning or explore related topics independently or in cooperative groups through the use of digital tools. Teachers can utilize flipped classrooms as part of blended learning also. Students learn the concepts outside of class via online lessons. Classroom time is used to practice and implement what they learned. Active learning is being incorporated into the classrooms. Students receive support not only from the teacher, but from their peers as well. Research has indicated that students who participate in the flipped classroom model demonstrate increased learning gains in comparison to traditional teaching models (Solochek, 2015). Some may wonder what happens when students do not complete the lessons outside of class or do not have access to digital devices. How are they supposed to participate in the in class practice? Some ideas include provided time before or after school to view the lesson, lend out devices, or recording lectures on DVDs or flash drives (Gonzalez, 2014).
In order for schools and educators to provide more personalized instruction for learners, changes to the traditional approach of teaching have to be made. At the elementary level, the most utilized approach is through blended learning. Implementing blending learning models will provide my students with individualized lessons, encourage collaboration amongst peers, and encourage student accountability. I will be able to spend more time working with small groups or individual students who may need more attention. Implementing a blending learning model will help me to provide the educational model that our 21st Century learners need.
Bocella, K. (2015, February 9). In Spring City, Pa., hybrid learning sends test scores soaring. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from http:// www.centerdigitaled.com/k-12/291336771.html
Christensen, C., Horn, M.B., & Staker, H. (May 2013). Is k-12 blended learning disruptive? An introduction to theory of hybrids [White Paper]. Retrieved from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Is-K-12-blended-learning-disruptive.pdf
Gonzalez, J. (March 2014). Modifying the flipped classroom: The in-class version. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-in-class-version-jennifer-gonzalez
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Paulson, A. (2014, April 20). Blended learning revolution: Tech meets tradition in the classroom. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2014/0420/Blended-learning-revolution-Tech-meets-tradition-in-the-classroom
Solochek, S. (February 2015). In flipped classrooms, teachers lecture online, use class for practice. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved from http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/in-flipped-classrooms-teachers-lecture-online-use-class-for-practice/2218710
Thompson, G. (September 2015). 13 Keys to successful blended learning. The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/Articles/2015/09/01/13-Keys-to-Successful-Blended-Learning.aspx?Page=1