Blended Learning – The new norm?
Blended Learning is now mainstream in K-12. How do I know this? For starters, as an educator, I live, eat, and breathe this. Beyond that, though, two anecdotes are indicative of a much larger trend that is increasingly easy to observe: a discussion with a friend and my district’s adoption of cloud tech. I had a discussion with a friend of mine two years ago. She is a wonderful sub at my high school and is on the board of a feeder school district here in California. She asked me: “Have you heard of cloud-based learning?” Yes, me, the original consulting teacher for WizIQ and for a time, WizIQ’s biggest US evangelist, said with a smile, “Yes, I sure have.” Then I said to my friend: “So are you saying your school district is all about cloud learning now?” ”Absolutely, yes,” she responded.
Then, the very next year, my high school (Rancho Cucamonga H S), along with my district, , adopts “School Loop“, a cloud based grading and communication platform. So my school district (Chaffey Joint Union High School District) is now fully involved in blended learning which is quickly evolving into more fully cloud-based learning. By the way, what caused my High School district to adopt School Loop is the fact that all of our feeder districts K-8 had already adopted it. We were essentially last in our area.
Its clear that K-12 education has come to terms with cloud-based education. This will move the Education Technology revolution forward. K-12 is now on the path of using more and more Ed Tech, most of which will be on the cloud because of reduced costs and increased efficiencies, as well as improved collaboration potential. This realization of cloud-based learning by K-12 educators across America opens the door for a myriad of hosted tools (like WizIQ, among many others), to further enhance education around the world. It’s a step by step process. In many cases: ‘baby steps’, to quote Vince Leung of MentorMob.
So it’s mainstream – But is it helping teachers on the ground?
So is School Loop helping my AP US History Classes at Rancho? I would say it just might have revolutionized my APUSH class. How is this possible? Well, because I see the power of updating my student’s grades as quickly as possible, providing near real-time feedback. It’s clear that just being able to give my students visibility into their performance on a timely basis has allowed them to hold themselves more accountable for their own class performance. They can see 24/7 their grade percentage in the class.
It seems a small thing, and it’s only part of what School Loop can do, but add to this the fact their parents can see their grades in near real-time as well, and you have an interesting triangulation going on between the APUSH teacher, the student, and his/her parent. This triangulation, it turns out, is very powerful, and looks like it might be a game-changer (it certainly has been for my APUSH classes). The transparency School Loop offers when it comes to student grades is almost irresistible. Keep in mind that AP students are, by definition, achievement oriented. The whole national Advanced Placement community is all about grades and achievement with a strong view towards University credit, admissions and scholarships. School Loop builds on this already existing dynamic.
My hope is that School Loop will cajole those who care less about achievement to actually care more because their performance is online at all times. There can be no more hiding behind the delays inherent in the traditional progress report/grade report cycles.