Professional Learning for Blended Education: Michigan Case Studies
Published on December 5, 2016

Modified on December 5, 2016

Abstract

This report shares the experiences of blended learning teachers in Michigan and is a result of interviews conducted to understand the experiences and professional learning choices. The case study based method was designed by using a combination of connecting with referred teachers and volunteers to create teacher profiles which describe their personal definitions of blended learning and perceptions of blended learning. Although the teacher definitions of blended learning were diverse a summarized definition of blended learning according to the teachers would be one that is an extension and enhancement of didactic or lecture-based approaches. According to the teachers, blended learning helped build connections and collaborations with other educators, increased student agency and changed their practice in terms of instructional design and the role of the teacher. This collection of teacher profiles provides a unique perspective of how many of the early teacher innovators considered how to integrate blended learning into their personal learning contexts.

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Written By:

Verena Roberts
Rebecca Stimson

What We Already Know About This Topic:
  • Blended learning is integrated into Michigan schools in a variety of ways through a variety of contexts
  • There are specific professional learning programs that promote mentorship programs for Michigan teachers
What This Report Adds:
  • There are limited formal professional development opportunities or college programs, there is much potential for additional programs.
  • Most teachers used self-directed or self-taught methods in order to learn about blended learning.
  • Mentorship and coaching programs are perceived to significantly increase teacher confidence and support a scaffolded approach to the integration of blended learning in Michigan classrooms.
  • Teachers tend to use a combination of informal and formal professional development opportunities to connect and learn about blended learning.
  • Teachers learn from and with students in a wide variety of ways as a result of the affordances blended learning can provide.
  • Peer to peer learning, which is a process where teachers teach each other, seems to be pervasive as an informal professional learning strategy
  • According to the teachers:
    • Students are more engaged and excited about their learning
    • Students demonstrated mastery of skills and exceeded curriculum and standardized test expectations
    • Closer relationships between teachers and students developed because the teachers were able to spend more individual times with students
    • Students were able to connect with more experts outside the classroom to enrich their learning experience
Implications for Practice and/or Policy:
  • Considerations for professional learning and development to support formal and informal learning.
  • Teachers feel isolated and want to be a part of learning communities or networks. How can professional learning consider extended learning communities and networks?
  • Social media is primarily used for professional learning and not in the classroom. How can the integration of social media integration be considered in classrooms? How can teachers use social media to build professional learning networks?
  • While data collection and tracking was evident in terms of district initiatives, data analysis could be considered in terms of how blended learning is successful in different learning contexts. How and why blended learning data is collected is still an area for potential research.

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