Troy Patterson

Educator, Thinker, Consultant

3 Ways to Stop Blended Learning

The wonderful Mr. Chris Kenniburg has authored a great post called Top 3 Ways to Stop Blended Learning. I love his take on this. This is done firmly with tongue in cheek.

His Top 3 ways:

  • Blame the Current LMS for Lack of Adoption with Staff
  • Technology Makes Teaching and Learning Easy
  • Change…Because What You Have Isn’t Working

Plus, a Bonus Tip:

  • Let Each Teacher Decide What Tool to Use

Seriously, go check out the article, then come back. I’ll wait.

Next, he provide three ways to help break the cycle and actually develop technology tools and skills that make a difference with real teachers and students.

  • Keep It Simple
  • Be Consistent
  • Do the Work

Now, I was lucky enough to have some discussions with Chris about the post. He drafted the post and shared an early version with me. He did a great job with the post. It is right on and well worth a read.

I especially love the parts about investing in yourself. It is crucial that educators do the work to learn and implement effective methods of teaching and learning.

Seriously, go read the article.

Student Presentation Feedback

I was asked by a teacher if Moodle would allow students to grade other students presentations. That is, the teacher has assigned students to give a classroom presentations. This teacher wanted the students in the class to grade the presentations in a simple, easy way.

I’ve previously written up how a teacher can grade oral presentations in Moodle quickly and efficiently. I thought that was absolutely brilliant. This teacher is asking for something similar, but, yet, very different. Instead of just the teacher doing the grading, every student would provide feedback.

I believe that this is good pedagogy. Having students involved in the assessment of their work is important. By assessing the work of their peers, each student also gets a good opportunity to deal with the criteria and learn the expectations.

So, how to do this in Moodle? Well, this seems like a great opportunity for the Workshop Module. The Workshop Module is designed to be student assessment based. In its most popular use case, the Workshop Module is peer editing.

Now, let’s take a look back at what I was asked. Each student will get up in front of the class and present on a topic. The teacher has already developed and shared a rubric with the class. The teacher would like each student to complete a rubric for each presentation.

Although the Workshop Module is not specifically designed for this, it will do a wonderful job. The students will need to “submit” their presentation prior to the starting of the delivery of those presentations. (Workshop module must have all the students at the same point in the process). Thus, I would have the students enter the title of their presentation and a short synopsis (a slightly tricky way to get them to write more and practice writing). Then, the other students will have a rubric and can provide feedback.

First of all, each student will receive feedback from many students. This will give them a good overall picture of how the presentation went. The students will also receive a grade for how closely they graded to the rest of the class. So the students who are listening to the presentation will also receive a grade for how they graded that presentation.

The teacher will get a wealth of data. Knowing how each student graded the presentation (and this is presented in a simple view) can give the teacher a nice broad overview of the class.

The teacher can then grade the same presentation and release this back to the students.

I’m working on a full write up to post over on Master Moodle. If you are interested in how to do this, please let me know.


Moodle Lesson Plans

I’ve been meaning to develop and post some Moodle Lesson Plans for a while now. I’ve decided that it is time to stop meaning and start posting. So, I’ve posted a couple (Say “Hi” in Moodle and Picture to Story. Say “Hi” in Moodle is a way for students to introduce themselves to the class. Picture to Story is a creative writing assignment.

I would really appreciate feedback on the posts, the Master Moodle Site, and the concept. If you find it useful, please let me know. Have an idea to make it better, let me know. A particular lesson that you would like to see implemented in Moodle, let me know.

Aw shucks

I received a “shout out” on Twitter from the EduPaths folks.

Check out this reflection from about the MOOC! Are you looking at ed cert renewal in June? A new MOOC starts January 29 for 20+SCECHs. Register here –

Glad to have been part of the project.

If you are a Michigan teacher looking to earn SCECH’s for FREE, check out the course. 

EdTech Trends – Part 4

Let’s finish up our look at the EdTech Trends of 2017. In previous posts, I’ve looked rising trends and the waning trends. Now, let’s review the “just emerging” trends. As previously noted, I

took note of:

  • “Seamlessness” in digital instruction
  • Moving beyond teacher skill development


This is where we’ve been heading for a while. This is actually very good news. Digital tools and resources are becoming just tools and resources. We have finally hit a point where technology is starting, just starting, to become just part of the process.

We certainly aren’t there yet, but we are heading toward a time when using technology will be nothing special. Technology will just be a “thing” that you pick up and put down as needed.

Teacher Skill Development

I’m not so sure about this one quite yet. Teachers certainly need to develop skills (heck, we all do). From what I’m reading around the web, teachers are not quite at the “moving beyond teacher skill development”. If the teachers don’t have the appropriate skill, they will not implement new things in the classroom. We’ve seen continued growth in using technology, but we still have a long way to go. Look around at the headlines:

  • 1001 Tech tools that you need to implement in your classroom
  • 101 Tech tools that you should master
  • 67 Tech tools for writing

OK, I made these up, but you’ve probably seen many just like them.

So, I think we’ve got quite a ways to go on this one yet. I hope that I’m wrong and that we will see the need to develop teacher skill be unnecessary soon.

EdTech Trends – Part 3

Last post I talked a bit about the “rising trends”. I’d like to continue looking that 2017 EdTech trends with the “waning” category. At least the ones that stood out for me.

  • Bring your own device
  • Gamification for gamification’s sake
  • “One size fits all” teacher professional development

Bring your own device

I’ve always thought that this one was interesting. I certainly understand the concept of getting devices into schools. The premise of getting this done for free (hey, kids already have devices, let them bring them) is always attractive. However, there are many things to consider. Do all kids really have devices to bring to school? Those educators who work in impoverished areas may have a different story to tell. Kids certainly don’t want to look poor. Sometimes if you ask them, they will say that they do have access to a computer or smart phone. It is not the same experience as many who come from well heeled economic areas.

Then you have the issue of usage. Having a teacher trying to troubleshoot issues with a wide variety of devices isn’t fair to the teacher at all. Each device can have a myriad of issues pop up. People who are really dedicated and interested in technology can sometimes need several minutes to troubleshoot issues. Asking a teacher who should be focused on pedagogy, student behavior and the learning process to also be an expert in troubleshooting never seemed really prudent.

Bring your own device always seemed to me to further inculcate that digital divide.


Here’s another one that I never understood. Gamification for the sake of gamification. Oooh, shiny! Now, gamification has a role in education. But not just purely for the sake of gamification. It is crucial that understand how technology can help the learning process. Just getting a kids attention isn’t enough.

I’m not completely convinced that this one is “waning”, but I hope so.

“One Size Fits All”

Ah, professional development. We’ve spent decades talking about making professional development relevant. We’ve spent the last couple of decades discussing the importance of customizing professional development to meet the needs of the individual teacher. I’ve seen great growth in professional development being much more customized and relevant for teachers. Truthly, that seems to vary by school too.

Like everything in education, there is no silver bullet in professional development. There is a time and place for “one size fits all” professional development, just not as much as we do.

We do now have some very powerful tools to provide much more customized relevant professional development. Here is one area where technology can make a huge impact. Chris Kenniburg has done some terrific work to assist in the creation and delivery process for professional development.

This is one area that I do hope is “waning”. It doesn’t need to go away, it just needs to not the only way that we provide and experience professional development.

EdTech Trends- Part 2

I want to dig a bit deeper into the last post about EdTech trends. Specifically, I want to take a look at those points in “rising” category that I found of interest:

  • New classroom models: blended, flipped, virtual
  • personalization

Let’s start with the “new” classroom models. Certainly, none of the three listed are actually “new”.

Flipped Classroom

Flipped classroom was all the rage a few years ago. I remember this being a darling child in 2015. Maybe you read the “Flip Your Classroom” book that was published in 2012. To oversimplify the strategy, a Flipped Classroom is where the students watch a video for homework, and then do the hands on, application in the classroom. That way, the students can watch the “lecture” (this can be a straight lecture or some other video that demonstrates the concept) as much as they need to. Then, the students do the practice work when the teacher is there to intervene, check for understanding and support the learning.

First of all, there is nothing wrong with this strategy. It is true. Some kids will watch the lecture. Some will come to class prepared and ready to go. Some kids will truly benefit from having the support of the classroom teacher as they work through the “homework”. However, this also will not work for all students. Some won’t watch the videos. Show need the social support of questions and answers during the instructional phase.

Flipped Classroom strategies are a great skill for a teacher to have. It can be a powerful weapon to assist students in learning, growing and skill acquisition. For most teachers though, this should not be your only strategy.

Blended Classrooms

Blended classrooms are certainly not “new”. There is research and references that go back to the 1960’s. CD-ROMS were a big push for blended learning in the 1990’s. The advent of the Internet brought much hope for blended classrooms. There have been many models presented of various blended learning models (Purnima Valiathan in 2002, Graham in 2004, Staker and Horn in 2012, Clayton Christensen in 2013). Michael B. Horn, Heather Staker and Clayton Christensen have published quite a bit of work on blended classrooms. My point here is that the concept of a blended classroom is not new.

Blended classrooms are still quite the rage. I’ve seen programs listed as “blended programs”. The “blended programs” can range from a class that has a web page with a bunch of links to a program that is truly blended (in classroom and online activities). It seems to me that all classrooms should be blended at this point. Technology has become such a part of the fabric of our lives (and, more importantly, our students), that it should be a natural extension of the learning process. Thus, including this in the “new” classroom models seems odd.


Virtual classrooms are also not new. I’m not completely sure exactly what the definition of “virtual” really is. This can mean online classes. Or this could mean the virtual reality classrooms that are being predicted.

Virtual classrooms being an online experience has had mixed results. The practicality of virtual classrooms hasn’t always met up with the idealism. Certainly we can learn things online. Personally, I’m a much bigger believer in blended classrooms in general. I do believe that virtual classrooms can have a role to play. For certain students in certain situations, a virtual experience could be just the right choice.


Personalization is an emerging trend. We are just getting to the point where the AI algorithms can effectively provide differentiated experiences for students. However, those still will pull from a limited construct. In fact, a couple of schools recently have backed out of the Summit Learning Platform (which provided personalized learning).

This is an area where I could see growth in the future. I just don’t think that we are quite there yet. I do believe that this is coming and will play a major role in education. It’s just not quite ready for “prime time” yet.

As always, I don’t believe that there is a single “silver bullet” that is going to be effective for every student. Learning is messy. Humans are messy. There is no replacement for an excellent teacher with a wide range of skills and strategies at her fingertips.

2017 EdTech Trends

K-12 BITS held a webinar on EdTech trends Julie Evans, CEO of Project Tomorrow identifies three different areas of trends in EdTech.

Three different areas of trends identified are:

  • rising
  • just emerging
  • waning

I found these interesting.

Among the “rising trends”, there are a couple that caught my eye:

  • New classroom models: blended, flipped, virtual
  • personalization

In the “just emerging” category, I found these of particular interest:

  • “Seamlessness” in digital instruction
  • Moving beyond teacher skill development

Finally, in the “waning” category, these stand out:

  • Bring your own device
  • Gamification for gamification’s sake
  • “One size fits all” teacher professional development

*Please note that there are more trends identified than I’ve pointed out as of interest.

In the rising trends category, I’m quite surprised that blended, flipped and virtual are included. These have been heavily discussed. There has been tons of virtual ink spilled on these areas. Schools have not universally implemented these (and probably with good reason). All of these take some adjustment within the system. First of all, students have to have some kind of reasonable access to devices. A bigger issue is teachers having access, training and support on implementing these pedagogies. While implementing any of those can be powerful, it does take work. Districts need to support teachers by providing them with platforms and training.

Personalization is a trend that we are all trying to really wrap our heads around. I doubt that it will look like what some Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are pushing, but I think that it will clearly have a role in education. I would’ve place personalization in the “just emerging” category.

The waning category is of particular interest. Many schools and teachers are still debating the “bring your own device” issues. These aren’t really as clear cut as some would make them out to be. In the real world, some of these issues are extremely complex. Gamification just for the sake of gamification should never have existed. This is one of the touchstones for me about the Glorification of Technology (see The Glitteratti).

One size fits all teacher professional development does seem more and more on it’s way out. More and more I see opportunities targeted much more closely to teacher need instead of one size fits all. That’s not to say that one size fits all is dead. Not by a long shot. However, we do seem to be moving quite purposefully to more appropriate professional development that is targeted to need. (Let’s hope that ends up translating to student education too).

Powerful words

“You make me a better educator.”


Words can be powerful. Sometimes, you never know where that power is going to come from.

I was finishing up a meeting with some wonderful Moodle users tonight. We had chatted about a variety of strategies and use cases. A few shared what they are doing in Moodle. It was a good meeting with some great people. I’ve been in plenty of meetings like this.

This one turned out different. As I was leaving, the organizer of the group thanked me for coming. I thanked her in return for allowing me to be part of the group and her efforts in connecting people together. Then she said something that floored me

“Thank you for all you do. You make me a better educator”

WOW. I didn’t really know what to say. I’m sure that I wasn’t very elegant in my response. I know that I thanked her and said something about being in this for learning. But, I’m sure that it wasn’t as powerful as the gift that she gave me.

I’m very thankful for what she said. I hope that if someone makes a difference for you, you share a similar expression with them. I can tell you that those powerful words touched me very deeply.

Where have I been?

I’ve been focused a lot on work lately. Usually, work isn’t quite as time consuming as it has been through the last couple of months, but this year it has.

I do enjoy my day job. I get to work with a wide variety of wonderful people. I also get to focus on student learning, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.

I do want to post more of the great ideas and implementations of student learning that I come across (and occasionally develop). Here are a couple of things that I need to post:

  • Student submitted videos in Moodle
  • Using Moodle to help develop vocabulary skills
  • Creating a Reading Log in Moodle
  • Students sharing work in Moodle
  • FlashCards in Moodle (I’ve posted about this before)
  • H5P and interactive videos in Moodle

Hopefully, I can start posting about some of these projects soon. Until then, keep working hard for student success.

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