Endless Possibilities: Not Just BlendED Learning, BlendING Learning
I have spent my life teaching, designing, training, building and innovating in the field of education. I have been a teacher, a union president, a charter school administrator, an educational software designer, an executive for a school management company and an entrepreneur. I have been politically correct, politically incorrect, offensive, defensive and in my opinion - a very likeable character. But until now...I have not been a blogger!
Today's blog serves as my public announcement of a new journey in my life, fortunately it is with some old friends and what I hope turn out to be some new friends. This blog will be the first of a series of monthly blogs in which I share with my readers, not my journey, but the journey of the passionate educators whom I am blessed to associate with through my new position at Education Elements. I hope to accurately reflect the innovative mindset and ideas of our clients, potential clients and fellow educators that I am lucky enough to meet with every month. In doing so I promise to do it in a way that is politically correct, politically incorrect, offensive, defensive and in my opinion - done in a very likeable fashion! Please know my goal is to elicit responses so that we can share opinions and other valuable elements about education. So use that comment button freely!
This week I met with a lifelong educator who cares about one thing: meeting the needs of the K-12 learners in the Buckeye State. He is an advocate of choice in that he believes that every American child deserves the right to a high quality education. His goal: to be creative with the funding mechanisms that are in place in Ohio so that students can take advantage of cyber schooling and traditional schooling at the same time!
Ohio has historically been like the Wild Wild West (errrr..Mid-West) when it comes to virtual schooling and after listening to his ideas, I immediately suggested a call with the most out-of the-box, yet conservative, educator that I know in Pennsylvania. This guy built a program that does the same sort of thing without the flexibility of distributed funding that exists in Ohio. He accomplished this with pure stakeholder input and a clearly defined business model that saved schools money and the result has been nearly 100% growth year over year, expansion way beyond his organization's boundaries and most importantly...better student services and results! I just knew that the conversation between these two would be perfect for my first blog.
I thought that the focus of the call would be business model and tried to steer the conversation in that direction. That was my plan....but when reality hit I just sat back and absorbed the energy....I have not been the same since. My mind has been running with their ideas and despite all of the business model, structure, services, and methodology that was shared I can't get the vision of "cyber...ish" out of my mind.
What would be the most effective environment for kids? Four core classes in a brick and mortar (B&M) building and electives online? Maybe, all the electives online, that allows for more variety (does it?) and traditional classroom for core? What about the kid that could really use the structured classroom time in ELA, but is bored at traditional pace in math and science, what should they do? Should they be able to do physical education and concert band at a B&M and take all their other courses online? Could a student do a different mix every semester? Every quarter? Every week? Every day even? Is that logistically possible? Considering Uber and other similar products...maybe it is! You figure between WiFi, GPS, and network login features attendance would be manageable and need not be a teacher's concern. Creative scheduling off of fixed scope and sequence at the B&M could make for real time scheduling adjustments and we could direct the students to real time lessons on-site when it was appropriate for them personally. Transportation might be a challenge...or it might be a more economical solution when compared to full bus routes every day?...once again Uber pops into my mind and I can see bus drivers with starting points scattered throughout the district on call. Suddenly bus 23, the one with the shortest route, gets an alert to pick up Richard because he just failed his math test and there is group study session on the same topics at 2:00….Possibility?
Were the two revolutionaries on the call asking/answering these exact questions? No, not directly, but they both clearly recognize that strictly online or strictly onsite opportunities were not going to meet the needs of the learners in which they feel accountable. They discussed the concept of a student not knowing the difference between and online program and a B&M program, one where there was a blending. A blending of programs, a blending of instructional strategies, a blending of resources, a blending of environments...you get the point. Sure the conversation included the ever so present discussion of blended instruction and how their respective districts and affiliates were interested in driving better use of technology and eLearning into the B&M classroom setting. Talk of partnering to create better tools for teachers and how such tools and methods can drive a more personal learning experience for their students, but despite this speak of reality….I can’t help but obsess over Blended Blending Learning.
About the Author: Ray recently joined the Education Elements team as the VP of Education. Check out his bio at edelements.com/team
About Ray Rozcyki
Ray Rozycki is the CEO of Spider Learning and a former educator. Spider Learning is a curriculum provider focused on the blended learning classroom. Their mission is to empower the art of teaching, by applying the science of learning. Learn more at spiderlearning.com or reach out to email@example.com.