When Educators Become Students

What happens when educators become students?

In one of our recent blog posts, we compared learning in the classroom to a visit to the doctor's office (Prescription for Learning) recognizing that we all come to either place with our own needs that are unique to each of us. Continuing that train of thought, I would like to discuss what it might look like if schools became more personalized. I hope by sharing ideas, a conversation might evolve that helps us all move forward on this personalized learning journey.

Let's begin with the learning environment and the antiquated practice of seat time to determine school funding and student grade progression. By now, I would venture to say that most educators know that seat time has nothing to do with learning and is an outdated practice considering the technology and resources available to us today.

Acknowledging this issue is not where the problem lies.

The problem is transferring best practices of face to face instruction into the new blended learning environment.

One of the best ways I know how to make this easier on educators is not only sharing what blended learning IS but providing examples of what it LOOKS like in the classroom. Although, it is often helpful to utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) in blended learning it is not a requirement as long as the technology is infused into the actual learning.

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Although it is important to note that infusing technology does not mean the 21st-century learning standard for integration is being met. For example, a PowerPoint presentation led by the instructor is not blended learning nor does it meet the current standards for technology integration. However, a PowerPoint led by an instructor that is interactive and engages students in learning can be.

Let me explain by using an example from one of my recent experiences.

At the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) conference a few weeks ago, the participants were treated to an exceptional keynote presentation by Mr. Karl Kapp. Mr. Kapp came onto the stage and opened his keynote address with a PowerPoint.

At first, I will admit I was disappointed because I was desperately wanting to see blended learning modeled and with his opening I assumed it was going to be another sage on the stage presentation. To my delight, I was wrong!

As Mr. Kapp went through his presentation, the audience was constantly engaged and involved. He modeled an example of blended learning through the using of PowerPoint, handheld devices, and some free apps.

The session was presented as a mystery to be solved and we were detectives helping find the answers. Mr. Kapp incorporated questions for the audience to vote on using a polling app, shared the results, discussed misconceptions and invited collaborative discussion.

In 45 minutes, I never once was tempted to chat with colleagues, scroll social media, or divert from the task at hand. He had tapped into what we wanted to learn. His blended learning approach to a keynote address not only provided much-needed information but also demonstrated what it might look like in a classroom.

We need more professional development (PD) that is conducted in this manner.

Educators become students when they attend PD and we often forget that. Just as all of our students come to us with different learning styles, so do adult learners when they enroll in PD.

How can we expect them to 'blend' their classrooms if we don't practice what we preach? I invite you to start a chatter on Twitter using the hashtag #ThrivistBlending. Let's share ideas (big and small) and really transform the way all learning happens!