Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blended Learning

This week's #jedchat topic was about incorporating Blended learning in the Judaic classroom. It was a very lively and interesting discussion. 
As I result I am posting a article I wrote for our school newsletter at the end of October 

This week, OCA was honored with a visit from representatives from the Alvo Foundation. Thanks to a
grant from the AVI CHAI Foundation, these consultants are working with us to incorporate blended learning into our curriculum.
What is blended learning? The definition of blended learning is: “education that combines face-to-face
classroom methods with computer-mediated activities.” The idea of blended learning has become
somewhat of a buzzword in education circles, and educational institutions everywhere tout their
blended learning approach to education. In order for blended learning to work and have the greatest
impact on our children’s education, parents and educators must clearly understand the advantages
blended learning  has  over more traditional educational approaches.
There are three distinct benefits to blended learning. 
(1) Teachers can more readily differentiate their lessons to meet the individual needs of every student
in the classroom; (2) Students become more excited
and engaged in their learning; and (3) Learning becomes more appropriate and relevant to a child living in the 21st century.
Incorporating technology into the 21st century classroom is an important and necessary process to
enable our children to become future leaders. Technology is not a the be-all and end-all of education,
but rather one of the many tools that should be used to educate our children. Just as scholarship was
revolutionized once the “new” technology of paper and pencil was introduced into the classroom, so
too, laptops, iPads, Smart Boards, and the Internet must be integrated into learning and teaching, as
technology permeates so much of our daily lives.
Although this may sound ridiculous to us today,  I can imagine there was once a raging debate on the
pros and cons of allowing children to utilize paper and pencil in the classroom.  Similarly,  I am certain
that within 5-10 years, the notion of children being taught in the absence of technology within the
classroom will seem similarly obsolete. However, having a computer in each classroom is not enough  – we must be cognizant of the importance of “blended learning.”
A  colleague and mentor of mine George Couros said the following : “Learning is the Focus – Too
often when we have “edtech” positions, many educators believe that it is time to put away their math
lesson and focus on using technology. This is not going to push learning ahead. As a school division,
we explicitly focus on creating positions that focus on learning first, so that innovation can come from
all classes, not simply technology courses.  The focus on learning for many educators helps them to
see the relevant use of technology in their classrooms and how it can transform the classroom experience.”
Here at OCA, our teachers strive to merge their traditional lessons with available technology to better
suit the needs of every child. By incorporating blending learning techniques into the curriculum we not
 only increase the children’s interest in learning, but more importantly, we are providing our students
with the necessary skills to succeed in the 21st century.

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