Blended & Online Learning

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I became interested in a blended learning approach before I knew it was called blended learning. In 2010 a set of iPod touches were being repurposed from another program and proposals were being accepted for  their acquisition. Myself and a 5th grade teacher were the lucky winners of these devices and the experimentation of how to leverage their functionality for instruction began.

Utilizing our Discovery Education subscription, we downloaded video content to the iPods. Students were then able to access video instruction on math concepts as one of several rotation stations. One of the stations was with her where students could receive direct instruction for reteaching or enrichment.

Although the workflow for adding content to the iPods was rather cumbersome, students were very engaged in the learning and the teacher was able to differentiate instruction for the various learning needs in her class.

I was hooked.

Students in Math Enrichment either work at iPad station, Think
Through Math on the computer or small group instruction
with the teacher.
With this model I could see how a single teacher could truly differentiate instruction. By utilizing instructional videos, she was no longer the lone source of knowledge for her students. It was as if she cloned herself. Video content could be customized so student received instruction at the level they needed. Through her stations, students could practice and apply math concepts with manipulatives, games, collaborative activities and independent assignments. Because she wasn't standing in front of the room teaching to the entire group she could circulate to check understanding, ask reflective questions and work with small groups.

This year, I have the good fortune to obtain a position with a focus on online and blended learning. I am working with an alternative high school which uses a blended model as their core structure. Core content is accessed through a Learning Management System from Edgenuity Inc. and is supplemented by projects and teacher led instruction.

This section of Free Range Technology will contain a collection of resources, observations, implementations and reflections as I develop my understanding of blended learning models and their ability to meet the needs of today's learners.

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