When I took on the role of Blended Learning Specialist, I did it with the intention of helping other teachers at my school find different ways to integrate technology into their teaching. I already have an idea of what “Blended Learning” is and what it looks like in the classroom, but I’m still striving to change my own pedagogy to fully embrace this model. What’s been missing is specific training and modeling of this. Enter the Leading Edge Certification (LEC).
Ironically I stumbled upon this course while attending a somewhat ineffective (i.e. too basic) technology training for the district Blended Learning Specialists. As a self-directed learner, I was really drawn to the online format. I already do much research online to find the best ways to use the provided technology in a way that benefits all learners (thank you Twitterverse, Edutopia, and bloggers abound!). I’ve trained and challenged myself to learn how to use various Web 2.0 Tools, apps, learning management systems, etc., therefore I was seeking something that would really stretch me and force me to think about my teaching and technology in a different way.
Ultimately, my main priority learning goal is to learn how to effectively incorporate a blended learning environment in my teaching so that I can “pay it forward” and show others at my site how to do it as well. This implies that I not only use it consistently, but that I can prove that it increases learning. It’s one thing to preach about how wonderful blended learning is, but if I can’t demonstrate that it’s worth the effort, then I won’t get any buy-in from the staff.
Since many of the teachers at my site are already adept at technology, I’d like to take us to the next step. I want to be able to determine what types of activities and assessments lend themselves better to a face-to-face versus an online environment. I don’t believe that all learners are successful in a purely online environment, nor do I believe that my class should be completely paperless. However, I do believe that if I can learn to find a perfect balance that increases student achievement, and in turn teach it to other teachers, then I’ve truly done my job as the Blended Learning Specialist and as an educator.
Speaking of balance, trying to balance coursework with teaching and life will be another interesting challenge. Luckily I recently read quite a few letters from teachers who had taken the LEC in previous years. They offered so much helpful advice on how to successfully survive and complete the course, and I was very grateful for this resource. What resonated the most was the focus on time management. Many of my colleagues in this cohort are in the same predicament as I am in that we have filled our lives with not only the time commitment of teaching, but also with families and other obligations. Adding the role of a good student will certainly push us to our limits!
I recall taking my Master’s Degree courses completely online, and it was quite an undertaking. Luckily I have a very supportive husband and daughter who understand that I always have some form of “homework” that I spend 2-3 hours a night completing, so I just have to find a way to squeeze this coursework into that time-frame. It means I’ll have to learn to be a more efficient grader. Since I blog a minimum of twice a week, I can try to incorporate my reflections from this class into my posts. I’ll have to try to find ways to make this coursework applicable to what I’m doing in the classroom so that I don’t have to do “double-duty” and plan for both.
I can see that my teaching will improve and I will grow professionally as a result of LEC. I’m looking forward to learning from my instructors and fellow colleagues, particularly since we’re such a diverse group of educators. I’m hoping in the end we’ll continue to stay connected and support each other as our district marches forward with technology.
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