How Teachers Implement Blended Learning in Their Classrooms
Page 1 of 2
by Peter Rowe, TeamCFA Educational Technology Committee Chair
In today’s world of near-constant technological advances and global competitiveness, our students will increasingly leverage technology both at home and at work. They need to be technologically proficient in order to succeed, and they need to be lifelong learners to keep up with the constantly changing workplace they will experience.
To help prepare our students for their future, TeamCFA kicked off its Educational Technology Initiative a few years ago. TeamCFA supports student testing and assessment through the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA™) and provides funding for schools to purchase Compass Learning’s Odyssey K–12 online learning system, which creates a standards-aligned learning path and helps assign lessons for each student based on individualized NWEA assessment.
With computers is its classrooms, TeamCFA has arrived at the threshold of what is being called blended learning—online learning combined with traditional face-to-face teaching (for an introduction to popular blended learning models, such as rotation stations, the flex model, self-paced learning, and the virtual classroom, watch the webinar Blended Learning in Charter Schools: Reimagining Traditional Models, presented by the National Charter School Resource Center). This is an exciting time because the academic benefits of blended learning are game changers.
Using online learning modules and techniques for skill building, practice, concept reinforcement, research, and more frees teachers up and makes more quality instruction time available for when students need it most, allowing teachers to have the greatest impact on their students. It also improves student learning outcomes and makes students’ time with both teachers and online instruction more productive. From a business perspective, leveraging technology in the classroom helps TeamCFA deliver high-quality education within budget constraints while growing our student body to capacity because it helps keep costs down, promotes teaching excellence, and allows our schools to serve more students cost-effectively. Plus, kids enjoy it!
Our students will need to be technologically savvy lifelong learners to keep up with the changing workplaces they will enter and the myriad positions they will hold. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s student will have 10 different jobs by the time they’re 38. Technology-related career fields are hiring more than ever, and even “traditional” career fields like healthcare and business are relying heavily on technology.
In all the careers our students choose, they will use technology. And will our kids be up to that task? If we meaningfully blend technology into their everyday learning lives today, they will. Intel Corporation stated, “Our access to, and use of, information is a competitive advantage.” And technology is a competitive advantage—for TeamCFA, our schools, our teachers, and, most importantly, our students.
Several teachers have approached me with questions about technology solutions for blended learning and how schools can share information on what works. The Educational Technology Committee can help. We’ve put Ed Tech Champions in place at each school as the point people for information on NWEA assessment, the Compass Learning Odyssey system, training, and using technology in the classroom.