The Changing Classroom

This school year I have attended several conferences that have really emphasized the changing landscape of the classroom.  The conversations have changed from IF classrooms will change to HOW classrooms will change.  The common thread through all of these - whether it is our governor’s drive behind legislative reform in Michigan to iNACOL’s changing vision - is the focus on student-centered learning systems.  

What is a student-centered learning system?  According to iNACOL it is a model that “...personalizes learning using competency-based approaches, supported by blended and online learning modalities and environments.”  Further,

Teachers use technology daily to analyze and utilize real-time data to differentiate instruction, customize learning and to engage students in deeper learning.  All students are responsible for their own learning and work at their own pace by demonstrating mastery of required concepts, resulting in higher achievement and ensuring all students are prepared for both college and career.1

The ability of the technology is already here.  Now it is about reteaching and relearning processes to incorporate it into our learning environments.  Ironically, in all successful programs that have planned for and implemented these changes technology decisions are the last piece decided on and put into place.  A sampling of other important questions to be answered first include:
  • What student needs will be fulfilled by these changes?
  • How will funding be re-aligned?
  • How will ongoing and continuous professional development be provided?
  • How will teaching change and how will student learning change?
  • How will content be customized to meet students?

To date, it appears that the most successful models are those that incorporate blended learning.  Research is continuing to come out that shows that blended learning environments have the most positive impact on student learning.  In fact, this year nationwide there are two fewer state virtual schools as even these schools are seeing more success with blending and a few have moved to a blended model.  

One of the most freeing yet difficult parts of incorporating blended learning is the fact that there is not one single model - blended can be incorporated in a variety of ways, depending on the district’s current needs and technology availability.  This means that if you look at 100 blended classrooms, you may see 100 different examples of implementation.  For many educators, the fact that incorporating blended learning is a process instead of an answer is a struggle, especially with the limited training that is currently available.

1"iNACOL's New Learning Models Vision." 2013. 6 Dec. 2013 <http://www.inacol.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/iNACOL-New-Learning-Models-Vision-October-2013.pdf>

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