Question: In your present educational/teaching circumstances, what level of problem is most urgent to solve and why? What type of team would you need in order to solve it? Who would you place on the team, and who would lead it?
The question asks for me to focus on my own teaching environment. However, since everything regarding the structure of my school and the future of our French Immersion online program is up in the air right now. I decided to focus on another school that I know a lot about. Both my children have been students there since Kindergarten and I have been volunteering there for the last 10 years.
Six years ago, the school district to which my children’s’ school belongs implemented a one-to-one computer program for all students in grade 4 to 12. However, the technology was added as a tool to help in the classroom, but no goals on why it should be integrated were developed, nor strategy specified as to how to implement it. Christensen (2015) stipulates that “by just introducing technology in the classroom, the disruption is being missed which is required to arrive at a more positive outcome. ” From what I can tell to this day, the technology is mostly used for word processing, doing research online, and working on limited pre-approved computer programs. I cannot blame the school’s teaching staff as they were not informed of the goals of the implementation nor have they received any training on how to properly embed technology in the classroom.
“In his book Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom, Larry Cuban reported that across a large sample of school in his study, computer had little or no impact on the way student learned.”
I believe that the school has access to the tools to implement a blended learning model. However, there are many steps that are required for this to happen. In other words, the district or the school would need to take “the necessary steps to change the norm through an intentional transformation” if they want to utilize to a greater extent the technological tools they have at hand.
First, they would need to identify the goals to make the change. In the case of the school, the goals could be to increase students’ success, offer more personalized learning to students, and to enhance the learning experience with the 21st century technology. The next step would be to organize a team that would design, organize and prepare the implementation of the blended learning model within the school.
However, I don’t think that this educational entity is ready to do the jump to blended learning. Therefore, I would like to present to them a project of a smaller scale. With the authorization from the governing body, I would like to assist a few teachers to implement blended learning in one section of their Français Langue courses. This could be used as a pilot project. I like the advice that Tucker (2013) gave in her article called: “Think big but start small”.
In order to run this pilot project, a lightweight team would be required. It would composed of two Français Langue teachers, a course developer, someone from the district’s technology department and someone in a leadership position. I would like to recruit one Français Langue teacher from my children’s school and another one in the district as content specialist. An administrator at the school level or at the district level would provide an administrative point of view. The computer technician would help with programs’ implementation The course developer would be me as I have experience developing courses and program for online learning. I would also be the one leading the project as I have a good knowledge of what blended learning is and I have an idea of what this model should look like in a Français Langue course.
At the end of this pilot project, data would be collected to see if teaching a Français Langue course in a blended learning environment has an effect on students’ success, an increase on personalized learning, and an improvement in students’ ability to use 21st century technology. A summary of the course would be prepared to present to the teaching staff and the governing body in hope to advocate for more blended learning courses to be developed and offered within the district. If more teachers are interested in this innovative model, either other lightweight teams or a heavyweight team would need to be created. This disruptive change within an establishment would require professional development and some funds to help with the transition. In consequence of this disruption, the technology would become more integrated in the teaching and learning which would be nice to see.
Up to today, I have taught in face-to-face and online environment. However, as I learn about blended learning and look how I could make changes within an educational environment, I am drawn towards this innovative model of teaching. Since I might not be teaching at my current online school next year, the idea of launching a blended pilot project in Français Langue courses is very appealing to me. I guess time will tell.
Christensen, Clayton. (2015). Blended: using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco. Jossey-Bass. A Wiley Brand.
Tucker, C. (March 2013). The basic of blended instruction. Retrieved November 22, 2016 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/The-Basics-of-Blended-Instruction.aspx