Monday, April 8, 2013

Blended Learning Options

I have become a true believer in using blended learning in our 1 to 1 computer classroom.  Blended learning is an approach that combines face to face classroom methods with computer- centered activities to form an integrated instructional approach.  

Blended learning gives my students the opportunity to access digital media content any time that they need it.  It also is strengthening their computer literacy skills through the multi-media rich content.  Our students are really loving learning through different modes of blended learning.

Here are some of the ways that I have been creating blended learning lessons and units for my students:

#1 - Schoology
Schoology is a free LMS that I have been using quite a bit lately.  What I love is the fact that it helps to organize and host the content  in one place.  Students can access videos,  quizzes, discussions, files and links easily.  I also love that my students can turn in an assignment from their Google Drive and I only have to open one window to view all of the students' Google documents for grading. Schoology's grade book is awesome!

Currently I am using Schoology for blending my math class and my reading class.  I am also using it for my Tiger Time group (RTI) to quiz my students and have digital discussions as they read a novel.

#2 - Google Sites  
I have been using Google Sites and Course Director for some time now.  Google sites makes it very easy for me to add content, including Google documents, Google Forms or Videos.  When I create a course with a Google Site, I can customize the look and layout of the site to make it fit the class I am teaching.

#3 - Glogster Edu 
I have just recently started using Glogster as a way to host content and blend my instruction.  Glogster is used for creating online posters.  What makes it so appropriate for hosting content is that a Glogster can include all forms of multi-media:  video, images, audio, text and graphic art.  Glogsters are easy to embed and share.  Another great feature of Glogster is the ability to create a template and share that template with students.  In this way students can access content on the template, but can also add their own content to the Glogster.
Here is a great example of using Glogster for blended learning:

Here are some more benefits of blending instruction in the classroom:

  • we use much less paper since students turn in their work electronically
  • students are becoming more digitally literate 
  • students are more in control of the pace of their learning
  • my online units and lessons are ready to go from year to year
  • quizzes and tests are graded within Schoology or a Google form to save me time
  • students are engaged in the online discussions and the classroom  activites
  • I am preparing students for the 21st century and for the future of online learning
I highly recommend giving the blended learning model a try if you have the technology available to do so.  

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