This latest extract from Education Technology is written by Natalie Burgess, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador, who discusses blended learning and how it combines the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction. Natalie’s current role is to train teachers across Scotland and the North of England to use technology in their classrooms. Natalie was previously a Primary School teacher for 6 years in Kirklandneuk Primary School, Renfrew.
Earlier this year, Natalie ran a webinar all about her Digital Leaders Programme and edtech in the classroom, which is available on demand: Digital Leaders in the Primary School.
Education Technology - Blended Learning, the best of both
by Natalie Burgess
During my time in the classroom, I was so excited to get started using technology with my Primary 3 pupils. However, things in education aren't always as easy as it seems. I didn't work in a school where the children had 1:1 devices at all times, not all of my teachers were confident in technology and sometimes I just didn't know where to start. So how did I manage to create a Blended Learning Environment in my classroom with minimal tech?
For me this was a two-step approach; starting in my own classroom and then disseminating this across the whole school.
I began with Office 365, using our online portal GLOW, where I began to to ‘flip’ my classroom, using Microsoft Office Mix, Sway and OneNote. I used the Microsoft Educator Community to learn and develop my skills. The children absolutely loved the fact that they could watch a video of me speaking in French using Office Mix, listen to their French vocab list at home and in school using OneNote and collaborate together on PowerPoints and Sways; all from home and in school.
I didn't work in a school where the children had 1:1 devices at all times, not all of my teachers were confident in technology and sometimes I just didn't know where to start
We did all of this during our ICT slot and also had the tech as a station in a range of active learning activities. The key for me was to use the technology throughout the curriculum and not just once a week in an ICT slot.
As I was beginning to get better with using the technology in my classroom, I was so excited to get the other teachers on board. I created a Pupil Group in my school called Digital Leaders! The pupils and I would meet once or twice a week and I would train them up on the most recent technology. They would then create lesson plans, skills checklists and then finally teach the other classes and teachers how to use the technology effectively throughout the curriculum. These children are true leaders in Kirklandneuk and have gained so many skills for life and work through being a part of this group.
Blended learning is learning that combines the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction for the purpose of enhancing learning. Through our use of Office 365 and Digital Leaders, we definitely made a huge impact on learning using this approach.