In the first post of this two-part series, we covered two roadblocks when implementing blended learning programs and how to solve them. We talked about how educators can increase student participation by aligning in-class work with online content, and how adapting curriculum content can be achieved when both IT and faculty work together to create a blended learning program that fits the requirements of all parties.
Blended learning programs have plenty of advantages for teachers and students compared to the traditional classroom model. However, blended learning programs also have a unique set of roadblocks that need addressed. In part two of this blog series, we’ll be addressing two more roadblocks facing educators, IT teams, and students in blended learning programs. And, we’ll give you the solutions to the blended learning roadblocks. The roadblocks covered today include: setting up proper technical framework and limited access to power in the classroom.
Roadblock Three: Setting Up Proper Technical Framework
Educators can become easily frustrated in a blended learning program when the technical set-up can’t fully support in-class needs and requirements. Examples of tech failings include hardware that is unable to support classroom needs and software that is too difficult for student and teacher use.
When addressing this roadblock, keep your faculty and students in mind as your IT team works with your tech vendors, software developers, A/V integrators, and other third parties. Your goal should be focused on building tools that are as user-friendly and complementary to your teachers’ approaches. If software is being developed, consider getting students’ thoughts and using their answers to inspire the design of the solution. Sometimes student input is overlooked when insights are gathered, but it could make all the difference. Even something like upgraded Wi-Fi foundation could be integral during the setup of blended learning classrooms.
Many teachers still see the classroom as the best place to pass information along compared to home-accessed alternatives, such as online videos, assigned e-readings, or other tools. In cases where the infrastructure cannot support classes, some educators may think that blended learning is ineffective. For this reason, it’s particularly important to make sure the groundwork your IT team lays can support the needs of your classrooms.
Ultimately, the technology needs to be reliable, affordable, and easy-to-use for students and teachers, with infrastructure built to support mass use and allow the easiest connectivity throughout the day.
Roadblock Four: Limited Access to Power in the Classroom
If having class interrupted by a student needing a charger for their Chromebook, laptop, or tablet is a common occurrence, you’re not alone. Whether it’s assisting a student with a dead device or finding a better way to charge student devices while in use during class, 64% of teachers are frustrated by issues related to power on a daily basis. When class is interrupted for this reason, the lesson and learning come to a stop.
For years, educators have relied on charging carts and lockers to keep students’ laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets securely charging while they’re not in use. However, a successful blended learning program requires students to continue learning by accessing assignments and lesson materials while at home. This puts an additional responsibility on the students and their parents to remember to charge their devices at home overnight so that they’re ready for a full day of classroom use. While this may seem like a small task, it’s often a forgotten task as students and parents are juggling their personal, professional, and academic lives.
As school districts continue to implement and advance blended learning programs, it’s important to evaluate classroom power needs to make sure devices aren’t contributing to a lack of focus and engagement in the classroom.
If you’re like over 2/3 of teachers, you probably use a mix of extension cords and power banks or charging carts and lockers to keep devices charged up and ready for classroom use. While these are great charging solutions when devices aren’t in use, they don’t solve the issue of devices needing charged while in use in the classroom. Students need access to power at their desks and tables, and while extension cords and power banks may help temporarily solve the issue, these solutions also come with additional challenges. Extension cords create additional trip and safety hazards while power banks typically don’t provide enough amperage to charge a laptop, Chromebook, or tablet multiple times. While these options may work depending on your needs, they aren’t the best solutions to providing access to power at every desk and table in your classroom.
The best solution to providing access to power in the classroom is to invest in laptop and Chromebook desk chargers. These multi-device charging stations are a portable and cordless power solution for classrooms that can either clamp onto the side of desks and tables or sit on top of desks and tables. What makes this charging station unique is that it’s essentially a portable outlet. Since it’s battery-powered, you don’t need access to power to charge laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones.
With laptop and Chromebook desk chargers, teachers don’t have to assist students with devices that are running low on battery during class anymore. And, students don’t have to remember to keep their devices charged and ready for in-class use. Bringing access to power to every classroom desk and table with laptop and Chromebook desk chargers keeps students focused and engaged and eliminates class disruptions caused by teachers assisting students with devices that need charged.
A multi-device desk charger with a cord-free feature also eliminates trip hazards in the classrooms caused by running extension cords and power strips from outlets to desks and tables.
Keeping students’ devices charged up during class with a battery-powered charging station keeps students engaged in the lesson, improves the learning environment, and contributes to their overall success. Plus, teachers can focus on creating successful lessons for their blended learning classrooms, not on keeping laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones charged during class.
Successful implementation of blended learning programs requires supporting educators and students both inside and outside the classroom. Equipping classrooms with the technical framework and infrastructure needed to support learning will keep students engaged and focused and will create better outcomes for all students.