Recently, I was designing a professional learning experience for some administrators and, for the first time in my career in blended learning outreach, decided to step completely away from the words that define this work of effective integration of technology in classrooms.
Over the past year, in particular, the misconceptions about “blended learning” being a forced implementation of technology or even being a completely online experience sets a challenging foundation for any learning space around the topic. The hesitancy and reluctance isn’t about a resistance to change or a resistance to innovation. It stems from misunderstanding. Outside of the eager-beaver, innovative teachers, we have 90% of teachers who are carefully weighing positives and negatives of any new initiative and how it will have an impact on student achievement.
Reflecting back on designing the learning experiences for these administrators, why did I cut out all references to blended learning? It was a gut instinct that I went with, and it was very effective. Our conversations together were focused on educational frameworks, like SAMR and TPACK, and the effective use of technology for the success of all students. We talked about teaching scenarios and how we would talk to teachers in these scenarios about the technology in their learning environments. With the limited time we had together, we spent the time talking about teaching and learning — not definitions and philosophical challenges with a vocabulary term.
As this district moves forward, they will eventually be ready to tackle what blended learning means to them and how they will communicate and develop a shared understanding with their teachers and stakeholders. For their first experience, however, it was far more beneficial to treat blended learning as the unspoken term behind our true purpose, creating environments where technology is effectively used to personalize learning and increase achievement for each and every student.