BYOT*, and Other Educational Terms to Know

June 10th, 2011

Category: News

The term “blended learning” seems to be getting a whole lot of attention right now- from the Khan Academy on “The Daily Show with John Stewart” to incorporating Wikipedia into course instruction at Virginia Tech.  Soon, at education conferences and among wonks, it will be part of our standard jargon, just as “growth model” and “extended learning time” have gone from new ideas to everyday vernacular.

So, what is “blended learning”? For many educators and schools, it already is a way of life. But – I’m a bit embarrassed to admit – this Gen Y-er is a little behind (I recently had to have my younger brother explain an iPod Touch to me). Blended learning refers to combining face-to-face learning with online instruction. There is a continuum of blended learning models – from using online tools as an optional supplement to classroom instruction (such as how the Kahn Academy is a really popular supplemental tool), all the way to having students engaged in a fully online education.

I’m personally and professionally intrigued, so I attended a related webinar hosted by EdWeek yesterday. The information was targeted to districts and schools interested in building blended learning models, and I learned about some successful programs and some significant challenges. For example, for educators, offering an advanced blended learning curriculum isn’t as simple as going online. Teachers have to create content, be available for online interactions, and get professional development on maximizing online tools. Teachers don’t necessarily need to be tech-savvy, but they need to be open to a new approach to teaching and learning, and schools that have had success with blended learning models emphasized that support for teachers is crucial – both training and incentives to participate.

Using a blended learning model can also be an effective (and fun) tool to engage parents and families in a student’s education, yet there are access challenges that need to be addressed. There are also philosophical challenges – should students be encouraged, for example, to “tweet” during class?

There is a lot more to learn and explore on this topic, and Rodel will be digging deeper over the coming months and bringing you the latest ideas, trends, and info. Stay wired!

*BYOT refers to “Bring Your Own Technology,” a concept that allows students in blended learning settings to always have mobile access to their coursework.

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Sarah Grunewald



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