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