This week I am going to be traveling around the Midwest and East Coast, with several colleagues, visiting schools that utilize a blended learning (or hybrid) model of educating their students. This is in preparation for our launch of a hybrid program (see Virtual School Experience) that will eventually lead–we hope–to a paradigm shift at our school and within our district. It is an exciting journey (literally and figuratively), and it is a fantastic opportunity for our school–to have the full support of our district administration as we look to make significant positive changes to the way we approach the educational process.
All that being said, I don’t consider the technology or pedagogy changes we are considering to be innovative. They are happening all over the country. There are obviously entire schools, even districts, that are implementing hybrid environments, but there are countless individual teachers who are doing the same thing at the classroom level. In fact, one could certainly make the argument that our school is not being innovative…we are simply trying to catch up.
Furthermore, maybe it is just semantics, but shouldn’t every school in our country aspire to be a blended learning community–combining the best that traditional education and new technologies have to offer our students? Again, consider some of the strategies we will be integrating across our campus:
- Problem / Challenge Based Learning
- Opportunities for students to be creators
- Utilization of social media as a student collaboration tool
- Full integration of Google Apps
- Using a virtual learning environment to offer a wider variety of electives (i.e. world languages)
- Technology integration to individualize student instruction
- Blogging by students and teachers to share ideas
- Expansion of education beyond the school walls using Skype
- An awareness of our community needs through community service projects
Nothing here that isn’t being done somewhere else. Just education as it should be–using the tools we have at our disposal to make learning more relevant and meaningful for our students. A dynamic environment, constantly changing to keep up with our society. This is what “new” education should be.
On a final note, no one person or entity has “the answer” — see The Wizard of Ed: Road to Reform. True reform has been described as “flying the airplane while we build it.” In order to do that, we have to be willing to share ideas, successes and failures. Our best chance at true innovation is through collaboration.