Blended Learning: Reaching Digital Natives in the Mainstream Classroom, Part 1

In today’s modern world, educators are ever seeking new ways to engage their students. In a perfect world, I would do cartwheels in front of the classroom if it would prepare my students for college. There are two current trends in education that I find puzzling. The first is the term “sage on stage” that condemns well studied teachers for imparting knowledge through direct presentation. This leads to the second, which is the embrace of student-led learning in the form of groups and projects with less teaching.

Sage on Stage vs. Student-led learning

The former, I find can be boring and outdated if the teacher is not passionate about his or her subject. The latter, student-led learning, is often overused by educators to the point that there is less potential for learning necessary subject matter. Whether the former or latter is the best way to educate remains to be seen. However, a combined approach is likely the best way to do so. As a teacher, I have utilized both techniques in my classroom. I find that lecturing is a needed tool to impart knowledge, while groups are a needed break from note-taking in which to practice that knowledge with one’s peers.

The debate will likely continue on for years to come. However, the answer is not whether or not to lecture or commit to student-led learning. The antidote is well within our reach in this modern world. A blended learning environment is key to reaching this generation of digital natives.  How do we reach them? We weave technology, constructivist principles, passionate lecture, and direct instruction to create a new learning environment that resonates with them.

The Cloud

This new world of the mainstream classroom is now being referred to as the ‘cloud’, and has become a whole new set of online applications and tools that enhance learning and teaching. In fact, cloud-based learning is powerful and has the potential to change education as we know it.  Among the many tools that contribute to a blended learning environment are virtual classrooms, education platforms, and group sharing websites.

Read Part 2 of “Blended Learning: Reaching Digital Natives in the Mainstream Classroom” to find out how this comes together in my classroom.


Deborah J. Cruthers has been involved in education for 13 years. She has taught grades K-12 for public, private, and home school students in special education, mainstream, and advanced classrooms. Her experience with educational technology includes cloud based learning in the following venues: synchronous, asynchronous, blended, and virtual classrooms.

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