5 Features of Blended Environments and More Q&A

Ken Royal posts a regular podcast for Scholastic.  I did a short podcast for Ken and he posted it today.  Here are the notes to the podcast.
Tell me a little about Getting Smart, the book. When was it released?
Getting Smart was released on October 2011 at  Excellence in Action National Summit hosted by the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
What was your inspiration behind the book?
The first inspiration was watching my daughter’s fourth grade in Mr. Weisman’s classroom in 1994 (the year the web exploded).  He created an engaging and personalized environment featuring projects and helped the kids make great use of one computer for every two students.
Disrupting Class made the case for change but it was time for more color commentary on how the shift to personal digital learning will take place.
Who do you hope reads it?
The book was written for educators and parents—anyone that cares about education and where it’s headed.
What do you hope is the greatest takeaway from reading it?
There are three big emerging benefits to personal digital learning:

  1. Customization: learning at the right level and in the best mode will boost learning per hour
  2. Motivation: engaging and game-based content will boost persistence
  3. Equalization: providing each student 24/7 access to the best courses and teachers will narrow the digital divide and improve opportunity

How do you envision personal digital learning changing the classroom?
By the end of the decade, most students will spent part of the their day online in blended learning environments where:

  1. Students have 24/7 access to instructional technology
  2. Social networking capabilities are central to instruction and the life of the school
  3. Students benefit from frequent (often instant) academic feedback; learning experiences will be guided by a rich data profile
  4. Student progress based on demonstrated competency
  5. School staffing leverages the knowledge and skill of master teachers supplemented by junior staff and remote teachers and tutors (a differentiated and distributed staffing model).

Many students will have a longer day and will experience more varied learning experiences.
How will digital learning change teaching
Many teachers will teach in teams led by as lead teacher and supported by para-professionals and occasionally by remote teachers (particularly for special needs and advanced subjects).
Applications will make grading, reporting, scheduling easier and faster.   Some districts will enable a teacher wallet that will enable them to buy content and tools dynamically.  (For more see 6 Ways Digital Learning is Changing Teaching.)
What do you think is the most positive effect of technology in classrooms today?
Today the positive effect may be technology use outside the classroom—access to search, video tutorials, and productivity tools.
Soon, the most productive benefit from learning technology will be the instant feedback that teachers and students get from embedded assessment.
You blog regularly at Getting Smart, what do you hope your readers get out of the blog?
We’re trying to create a community interested in innovations in learning. We hope the conversation accelerates and enhances the shift to personal digital learning.
For a longer Q&A, see The Education World is Flat, a long interview published in Psychology Today.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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