With our friends at Digital Learning Now! and The Learning Accelerator, Getting Smart hosted a blended learning workshop today. Borrowing from Food Network’s Chopped, we gave each team a “recipe card” of ingredients to “cook up a batch of blended learning” by designing their own school models. Armed with helpful tools like the Blended Learning Implementation Guide,  How To Implement Blended Learning infographic and Smart Edtech Requires Buying Smart infographic, the participants moved through creating the conditions for success, planning, implementing and improving their school.

The groups wrapped the session with 2 minutes pitches about their school models. The school models proposed focused on student-centered models, with a mix of blended learning models described–each focusing on different devices, models and content in order to reach their primary learning goals. While the goals themselves differed, there were some common themes that emerged across the models. These themes included:

  • A student-centered focus

  • Mix of blended learning models

  • Local and global connections to the community

  • Students as producers

  • Phased approaches to implementation

  • A focus on goals first and choices around devices and platforms later

  • New roles for teachers & differentiated staffing models

The highlight of the session was students from the Austin area who joined the session to share their perspectives. In addition to providing valuable advice to the groups, the students developed their own model blended learning school. We loved hearing that they want more opportunities for community service, project based learning and performance-based assessments.

In addition to advice from students, education thought leaders and experts who acted as Master Chefs rotated through the teams and provided advice on blended learning implementation.

The observations from our master chefs included:

  1. Start with clear goals and a vision of powerful student learning experiences;

  2. Keep key decisions in mind during every step: goals, model, platform, devices, staffing (as noted in the Blended Learning Implementation Guide);

  3. Consider a partner or a network. It’s not simple to create a coherent school model & integrated IT stack;

  4. Remember blended learning benefits teachers as well as students (see examples of PD powered by Edmodo); and

  5. Consider staffing strategies that incorporate new/unique roles to leverage great teaching with technology (see Improving Conditions & Careers).

The Getting Smart team is available for blended learning school design workshops. Workshop length & level of support vary according to your needs & target audience. For more information see our speaking engagement page.

Stay tuned for more from #SXSWedu on GettingSmart.com and on Twitter at @Getting_Smart! Check out #choppededu for more on the session.

Digital Learning Now! and The Learning Accelerator are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners

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