Celebrate Blended Learning on Digital Learning Day!

 

Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day started in 2012 as a way to highlight and celebrate the ways that technology is being used in K-12 education. Technology reaches all levels of education and can have a huge impact in the adult education world as well. Which tech tools would you like to celebrate this year? If you’ve used technology to extend your classroom opportunities beyond the face-to-face environment, you might have already used blended learning. Here at the EdTech Center, we’ve been spending a good amount of time thinking about best practices for blended learning.

In honor of Digital Learning Day, we will be sharing our 3-hour self-paced multimedia course, Introduction to Blended Learning, to any who wish to try it out. The course will be available from February 23 through March 2. Watch for our email on the 23rd, or mark your calendar to visit the course page next week for instructions to get started.

Introduction to Blended Learning is one of three Special Topics courses that are part of the IDEAL Consortium’s member resources. The IDEAL Consortium, a project of the EdTech Center, brings together states interested in developing distance and blended education programs to meet the online learning needs of adult learners who need to study at a distance or wish to extend learning beyond the classroom. To learn more about the benefits of IDEAL Membership and to see if your state is a member, visit http://ideal.worlded.org.

But you don’t need to wait until Digital Learning Day to get started!

  • Visit our webinar archive to listen to Blended Learning in the Adult Education Classroom. This webinar explored questions such as: What is blended learning? Why could blended learning be useful to your adult education program? What are some different approaches to adding an online learning component? Participants are introduced to a new, free, online guide to the blended learning classroom, written by webinar presenter David J. Rosen and published by Essential Education.
  • Register for a facilitated online course!
    • Blended and Project-Based Learning
      March 7 – May 2, estimated completion time: 30 hours
      Can you remember how much fun it was to do a project for school – some of my fondest grade school memories were projects. If you haven’t been using project-based learning (PBL) in your classroom, join us to refresh your understanding of project-based learning, while exploring how it could be done in the context of a blending learning approach. Combining new technology tools with project-based learning allows teachers to introduce their classes to problem-solving tasks, enhance learners’ critical thinking, and improve students’ research and communication skill, leveraging both face-to-face and online learning options. Gather together your colleagues (learning is always more fun with a partner) and
      register today!
    • Blended Learning for English Language Learners 
      April 26 – May 23, estimated completion time: 12 hours
      Explore how and when to use blended learning to enhance your work with adult English language learners (ELLs). Investigate ways educators have structured their curricula to include one or more blended learning approaches. See examples of how blended learning can be implemented using the free USA Learns website as an example. Leave the course with a draft lesson that uses blended learning in either face-to-face or distance settings.
      Register today!

 

Mobilizing Adult Education

By Paul Rogers

two people textingThe use of mobile devices in adult education is an important addition to the tools used by students and teachers alike. With a mobile device, especially a smartphone, at any time any student can access lessons on the Internet, through Google, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. We have come a long way since Bill Gates began to champion the use of cell phones 8 years ago.

  • Adults who work and have families can more easily attend and participate in classes, especially distance learning classes.
  • To begin with, teachers at least can use smartphones to keep students notified, to answer questions and to send assignments.
  • The free smartphone app, WhatsApp, has grown tremendously in popularity and now teachers can also create WhatsApp study groups for each class, using it to post sites, tests, audios and videos, and teacher-designed lessons.
  • In addition, teachers can create free or nearly free class websites for the students – Wikispaces for teachers and WIX are two such sites which are accessible via WhatsApp.
  • Teachers can develop a YouTube account for their own video-lessons and utilize thousands of free lessons on YouTube posted by other teachers – accessible via smartphones.
  • Facebook allows anyone to create membership groups, which a teacher can develop to include lessons, notices, etc.

A program designed around the use of technology in general and mobile devices in particular could become very popular and more interesting to students, allowing for an increase in enrollment and a lower “drop-out” rate. And, in particular, students who have difficulty enrolling in courses due to work and family obligations would have an opportunity to continue their education in distance learning programs set up to meet their needs.

Paul Rogers has been an ESL teacher for over 25 years and developed a bilingual and phonetic course which became the basis of PUMAROSA.COM, a free website for Spanish speaking adults, beginning in 2004. Pumarosa has been available for use on smartphones for about one year and Paul has been using and promoting the site as part of his program, working as an independent teacher, unaffiliated with any school or non-profit agency.

Panel Summary: Leveraging Trends in Blended, Distance, and Mobile Learning

On November 14, 2016 The EdTech Center at World Education hosted a panel at NCTN’s Effective Transitions in Adult Education annual conference, which is dedicated to strengthening adult education’s capacity to ensure that adult learners have access to and success in the college, occupational training and career they need to earn a family-sustaining wage. The panel, entitled Leveraging Trends in Blended, Distance, and Mobile Learning (listen to the audio recording), was moderated by IDEAL Consortium Director, Jen Vanek and included the following panelists:

  • Simona Simpson, Director of Multiple Pathways for the Providence Public School District in Rhode Island;
  • Dr. David J. Rosen, President of Newsome Associates in Jamaica Plain, MA, editor of the COABE Journal Web Scan column, moderator of the LINCS Technology and Learning community of practice, and author of Blended Learning for the Adult Education Classroom;
  • Christopher Bourret, Lead Teacher/Program Coordinator with Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI) and Tech Coach for the RI Adult Education Professional Development Center; and
  • Joe Stubblefield, Director of Educational Technology for Arizona Department of Education, Adult Education Services.

panelists

Jen Vanek opened the discussion by introducing the tension between the relatively small fraction of adults being served by adult education programs and the enormous need for adults to improve their technology skills for entry to postsecondary education and training or to enter the workforce. She invited panelists to consider how distance, blended, or mobile learning has been leveraged in their current roles. For panelist Chris Bourret, it was the use of mobile learning in his program that stood out. In his experience, most students have mobile phones, even if they don’t know how to benefit from them, and there are many ways to leverage them in the classroom – from recording or filming themselves, taking quizzes, or simply downloading things to read. In Chris’ It changes how you teach. words: “It changes how you teach and it changes how they look at learning.” The changing role of the teacher and personalized learning was a theme amongst the other panelists as well. Joe Stubblefield echoed the perspective saying that teachers needed to learn how to present themselves more as facilitators or guides and give more ownership of learning back to the students. David Rosen added that the key is “comfort, competence, and confidence in using tech for learning” for learners and teachers to best be able to problem-solve using technology. And Simona Simpson added the importance of personalized learning and instruction for equality, accessibility and differentiation.

A theme in the panel was how to support distance learners. David Rosen introduced Peer-2-Peer University (P2PU), that gives learners a way to support each other in person while taking an online course. Chris Bourret added that in Rhode Island “Learning Lounges” have been set up for students who are taking online courses to be able to work together. Joe suggested using a Learning Management System (LMS) to support distance learners as well as taking advantage of online resources such as those listed below. Panelists discussed the need for increased prep time for teachers to keep up with demand for online materials as students get increasingly engaged.

Resources to connect with distance learners:

A significant portion of the panel discussion covered blended learning. Several speakers commented on the importance of connecting online and face-to-face instruction. Joe Stubblefield described efforts to accomplish this in AZ by training over 500 instructors to roll out statewide blended learning to 13,000 students. Topics covered included: how to use the LMS, possible support resources, and how to align both online and face-to-face learning with each other and with CCR Standards. Simona Simpson cautioned attendees to ensure acceptable use policies are in place if using devices in the classroom, and that expectations and consequences are clear. Finally, Joe Stubblefield suggested experimenting with and finding the right blended learning model (e.g., station rotation, flipped classroom, lab rotation, etc.) for different classroom contexts.

Another topic discussed was how to work around the issues created by lack of access to devices or high-speed internet. Libraries were listed as one resource for loaned hot spots and even devices, but teachers may need to get creative and make use of whatever’s available including: student phones, setting up classroom access, everyoneon.org/adulted, or setting up collaborations with local businesses to use their WIFI. To learn more about issues around digital access, National Digital Inclusion Allowance (NDIA) is an organization you may be interested in following.

Professional development resources:

Listen to the audio recording of Leveraging Trends in Blended, Distance, and Mobile Learning, share a highlight or leave us your thoughts in the comments.
~ Leah Peterson, Assistant Director, EdTech Center