Ask any teacher their thoughts on blended learning and you’ll hear a wide margin of responses, including concerns about where it can go wrong. Even with improved and advanced EdTech tools in classrooms, such as AR/VR solutions, issues during and after implementation continue to persist.
But whether you’re an EdTech enthusiast or skeptic, there are clear steps that can be taken to overcome challenges when implementing a blended learning environment in 2019. Whether you’re a CIO, CTO, or other IT staff, as well as educators, in the K-12 space, here’s what you need to know about the roadblocks to implementing blended learning in schools.
In this two-part series, we’ll be discussing the four major roadblocks facing educators, IT teams, and students when implementing blended learning programs. And, we’ll give you the solutions to the top blended learning roadblocks. The roadblocks covered today in part-one include: ensuring student participation and adopting curriculum content.
Roadblock One: Ensuring Student Participation
In any form of blended learning, there are resources that students can use to learn outside of class. But some teachers are concerned that students learning on their own time outside of class could result in lower overall knowledge retention.
Making sure students come to class prepared becomes one of the key priorities in a successful blended learning program.
To keep students motivated, teachers may consider incentivizing them by making in-class work assignments very closely aligned to the content delivered online. Additionally, many learning platforms offer a system of activity tracking that can hold students accountable for their learning outside of class.
There’s also a responsibility on the IT team to connect classes with user-friendly and reliable EdTech that both students and teachers enjoy using. This also means that faculty will need to be trained on new tools. Providing reliable EdTech and the proper training needed to succeed will keep class on track and keep the day-to-day plans running smoothly as materials are independently consumed by students at home.
Roadblock Two: Adapting Curriculum Content
Educators have found that developing curriculum content for blended learning approaches could prove challenging – especially when it comes to the differences between in-person and online classes. One example is a school who sought to use videoconferencing for instructional courses during their semesters. Even after building the infrastructure for the course’s video interaction, teachers wrestled with developing resources and lesson plans to fit the new format.
Running alongside this issue is a deeper, recurring challenge for many schools: the unfamiliarity of staff with the new digital tools. Especially in the case where the change takes place rapidly, many faculty may feel unequipped to manage their class structure with new tools.
Success in your blended learning initiatives becomes possible when IT has both the faculty and students on board (and keeps them on board) from day one. When there’s clear visibility into each parties’ day-to-day classroom experiences, a better understanding can be established of what they’d ideally want (and wouldn’t want) in their blended learning program.
It can take time to get everyone to agree on the best way to bring blended learning into their classroom. Earning faculty buy-in occurs in multiple stages, meaning you’ll need to keep them in the loop not only in the steps leading up to implementation, but afterwards as well. One question your school should always be answering is, “how do the students’ grades compare in a blended learning program versus the traditional classroom?” Once faculty can see the results of this comparison, they’re often more open to teaching in a blended learning environment.
All of this is easier said than done, and running a successful blended learning program is so much more than just answering the question, “Which software and hardware will we need?”
Reliable technology is crucial, but it’s even more essential that students and teachers support the new tools. And likewise, that the new tools support the existing frameworks that students learn the material. Once you have that initial buy-in, keep your eyes on the numbers and see how students perform in the blended learning environment.
Part 2 Preview
The solutions to blended learning roadblocks we cover in part-two of this series include: setting up proper technical framework and limited access to power in the classroom.
We’ll be taking a look at how school IT teams can ease educators’ frustrations with classroom tech set-up in blended learning programs. And, we’ll be addressing how providing access to power at every student desk and table with laptop and Chromebook desk chargers can help keep students focused and engaged during class.
You can read Part 2 here.