Nov 27 2017

PD, Planning and Tech Investment Are Integral to Blended Learning Success

A new report finds teachers are more successful at changing classrooms when they have support from schools and districts.

Blended learning, where students split their time between in-class lessons and online work, has become increasingly popular in K–12 education due to its success.

A new study has found that blended learning initiatives have a greater chance of success when teachers receive proper training and support.

The Foundation for Blended and Online Learning spent months surveying teachers on their tech use in blended learning and released a report in September that found a correlation between effective teacher support and successful initiatives.

The report found that blended learning transformed teaching practices for 43 percent of teachers surveyed, while 44 percent said that the same tech has improved their students’ performance.

Those educators also indicated that their schools were at least offering some formal support for blended technology. Their peers who indicated that technology hasn’t changed their classroom for the better didn’t report receiving the same support.

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Blended Learning Reimagines Teaching but Requires Investment

The FBOL report found that schools aren’t often prepared for the investment of time and teacher training required to change a traditional classroom to a blended one, which can lead to poor outcomes.

It’s one of the biggest roadblocks in blending learning. In Ohio, the majority of schools surveyed in 2015 were using some form of blended learning, THE Journal reports. But a third of respondents in the same report said they wished they had planned more thoroughly and 28 percent of Ohio educational leaders wished they had provided more professional development to their teachers.

Aside from professional development, educators in the FBOL report also indicated that the lack of investment in quality technology and infrastructure led to challenges in implementing blended learning.

For some educators, not having enough devices for each student made it difficult to complete online activities on time. Other educators told FBOL that they had to prepare two lesson plans, just in case their internet connection went down.

“For teachers to be successful with technology, they must be supported by their schools and districts,” reports FBOL. “There are simply too many interconnected parts that play into success or failure, and teachers are responsible for only some of them.”

However, when blended learning is supported and teachers are able to innovate, students reap big benefits. For example, FBOL found that blended learning technology is enabling teachers to work with smaller groups of students and is offering them a more personalized path to learning. Also, students are able to take charge of their own learning more frequently.

“Blended learning allows students to work at their own pace and to be as creative as possible,” an educator tells FBOL. “They have choices, and I feel that it has helped them become leaders in the classroom. It has also made them more accountable for their learning and more proud of their accomplishments.”

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