The discussion and debate of online and blended learning continue. It will hardly end soon, and I welcome it. It has caused people to evaluate their goals for students in education and how we educate our student. It has caused teachers to reflect on the way they teach. It has caused districts to introduce more and better technology in the classroom. It has cause businesses and organizations to engage in reforming the system. Structures and systems have are being reevaluated. So many consequences and products have come to pass simply by introducing online and blended learning as a viable option, yet there is one consequence that exists the most profound among all others. It has caused and will continue to cause schools around the globe to give students something all schools should have provided in the first place – a reason to go to school.
The content is out there now. For too long teachers have been viewed, and often rightfully so, as the caretakers of knowledge. Yes, they are content experts, but that of course is not the essence of teaching. This pitfall, of the teacher simply giving knowledge to students, is now being addressed transparently in reforming public education. We know it not to be effective teaching. The presence of online and hybrid learning have helped in ending this ineffective method of teaching. With content, lessons, and activities so readily available, a teacher standing at the room giving lectures 100% of class time is no longer needed. Good teachers are looking at their practice and trying to answer the question: “Why should students need and why should they want to come to my classroom?”
In addition to helping reform the teaching practice, it has stirred conversation about schools themselves. As we move forward, what will schools like, both in structures and in mission and identity? Mission and identify is the key to creating and sustaining a unique and engaging learning environment. Many schools have a mission statement, but when it comes to the curriculum and instruction, that content is often lacking in it. In my travels, I have seen some new and amazing identities and missions that have appeared, all because schools understand they have not given a reason for students to come to school. When speaking with students, Using the words career and college readiness is not enough. In addition to it being irrelevant to some students and their world, these words of career and college readiness are often not contextualized in the school. Words are not enough; the curriculum, instructional pedagogies, school culture and the like will have to actively reflect an exciting mission and vision. With online and hybrid learning growing, schools will have to contextualize and culturalize in their school a unique identity and mission that gives students a real and authentic reason for going. I encourage all schools out there not to react in fear, but opportunity to provide a unique and exemplary learning environment.