The days of one-size-fits-all education are ending…..
You are a student before the introduction of computers into classrooms. You sit at a desk. The teacher stands in the front of the class, a blackboard in front of her, a piece of white chalk in her hand. Everyone (well, almost everyone) is listening to the lesson. While many in the class are understanding the lesson, some in the class may not understand it all; some may find it boring because they comprehend the material much better. You are taking notes using pencil and paper and trying to keep up with the teacher.
Toward the end of the lesson, the teacher assigns the night’s homework. It is worth 10% of the grade. (The problem, however, is that you don’t quite understand the lesson and will have to struggle with the homework.) You will lug home textbooks not only from this class, but from several others, all with similar homework assignments. (Your back aches just thinking about it, right?)
Remember those days?
Now fast forward a few years, or in some cases, decades, into the 21st century classroom…
You are sitting in a classroom where every student has been given a computer (traditional laptop, Chromebook, or maybe an iPad). All have internet access. The teacher may be standing in front of an interactive board connected to his laptop, stylus in hand. More likely though, he is sitting with a small group of students who need more individualized help. Another group of students are gathered around a table or sitting on couches, collaborating on a group project. Still another group is on working on homework assignments after viewing videos and tutorials the night before. They brought home just their computers; their textbooks have been downloaded or provided on CD.
Welcome to the world of individualized learning and the flipped classroom. Not all students learn at the same rate, and no two students are the same. So why treat them the same, when tools are available to take a different approach?
The Flipped Classroom and Blended Learning
The Flipped Classroom concept turns the traditional method of learning on its head. Teachers used to assign homework to do at home following an in class lecture. Instead, the flipped classroom model focuses on students digesting instructor-prepared on-line content at home and then concentrate on what would otherwise have been considered homework as problem-solving sessions in the classroom. They thus have the advantage of collaborative problem-solving with both other students and their instructor. Students can view content at home at their own pace.
The Blended Classroom takes elements from both the traditional classroom model and the flipped classroom model and “blends” them together. Instructors will initiate conversation topics in class and then invoke students into at-home, on-line discussions involving these topics. This promotes involvement from normally “silent” students in the classroom and tends to de-emphasize the ever- dominant voices in the classroom.
There are several very good videos available describing the flipped classroom:
These are just some of the video resources available.
A good article on the basics of blending a classroom and technology can be found at The Basics of Blended Instruction
Implementing a One to One Technology
The Kennett Consolidated School District is currently considering a “one-to-one” program, wherein each student is provided their own laptop computer, or they can bring to school their own technology (BYOT Program). This can be in the form of a mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop, or iPad.
Although generic one to one programs for school districts has been around since the late 1990’s, there are still pros and cons to this program. These topics are presented in Pros and Cons of a 1:1 in Schools. In many school districts, computers are purchased for each student and then the subject of how best to utilize them is broached. At KCSD, we are taking an opposite approach. We are putting the needs of the student first, and we will make sure that proper infrastructure (personnel, network infrastructure, professional development for instructors, curriculum) is in place prior to making this expenditure. This approach is supported: Why Schools Must Move Beyond One-to-One Computing. And 15 Common Traits of Successful 1:1 Computing Initiatives.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Within the last two years, KCSD has adopted and integrated Schoology as its primary learning management system. Schoology provides all of the tools necessary to promote an on-line learning environment. Teachers can post assignments and due dates, and create tests and quizzes. Students and teachers can collaborate on assignments; when assignments are completed, students can submit them into the teacher’s dropbox whereupon the assignments can be graded. Grades are uploaded to Gradebook automatically, and students are notified of their grades much more quickly than with traditional (paper and pencil) grading methods.
Some of the benefits to student achievement through individualized learning are touted. Check out How Individualized Learning Can Build Student Confidence.
Brick and mortar stores are disappearing every day with the unprecedented success of on-line retailers such as Amazon. Will brick and mortar schools be phased out in the future? We look at Advantages of Virtual Classrooms and How Large Districts Can Benefit