This week I have chosen to discuss blended learning, blended instruction, makerspaces, and BYOD programs.
According to Sheninger (2019), “blended instruction is what the teacher does with technology. Blended learning is where students use tech to have control over path, place, and pace” (p. 132). Basically, blended instruction is integrating different types of technology into the established instruction techniques and routines. While this isn’t a bad practice, it also isn’t blended learning.
Blending learning gives students a sense of ownership over their learning. They can use different technologies to gain control over their learning including how they learn, where they learn, and how fast they move through lessons – path, place, and pace (Sheninger, 2019). With blended learning, flexible learning spaces such as makerspaces and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments, can make all the difference.
According to Laura Fleming (as cited by Sheninger, 2019), a makerspace is “a unique learning environment that allows for tinkering, play and open-ended exploration for ALL” (p.123). Makerspaces are an environment in which students approach real-world problems and create solutions for them. These spaces give students a safe environment in which to test their ideas and to safely fail as needed. They are less about what the rooms are equipped with and more about providing students a hands-on learning environment.
A BYOD environment is one in which students use their own devices – laptops, phones, tablets – to school for use in the classroom. It is one approach to moving to a 1 to 1 teaching environment that helps alleviate the financial strain of the school purchasing and providing devices to the students.
Blended learning, and the use of makerspaces and new technology, can affect pedagogy in that a teacher will need to be more creative in engaging with their students. These blended environments also call for more high-level learning with a focus on critical thinking and real-world application. Blended learning encourages student collaboration and communication. All of this causes a shift to more personalized and individual learning techniques.
So, how do teachers maintain learning fidelity in these types of environments? Having a school wide instructional philosophy that incorporates technology, 1 to 1 learning, and some flexibility is key here. All instructors will be expected to teach their students based on their school’s philosophy, but there has to be room to meet the students’ individual needs as well. This can be accomplished with the use of digital leadership. Sheninger (2019) writes:
“If students are to engage in meaningful, real-world learning, a concerted effort has to be made to create classrooms and a culture that better reflect the conditions where kids will work and learn in the present as well as the future. Digital leadership drives school leaders to look past traditional constructs and incorporate trends embraced by Fortune 500 companies. Investments in digital tools and changes to pedagogy must be accompanied by transformed spaces and environments to truly create a relevant learning culture” (p. 138).
Sheninger, E. C. (2019). Digital leadership: changing paradigms for changing times (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.