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Jessica Hunsinger

Jessica Hunsinger

Product Manager, Kiddom

Former educator passionate about building human potential. Saving teachers time through interoperability is what currently drives me. 

In the final post of our 4-part blended learning series, we introduce three ways to offer entire units or courses online.

In the first post, view a blended learning infographic to find out which blended learning model is best for your classroom. In the second post, learn about station rotation and lab rotation. In the third post, discover the benefits of the individual rotation and flex models of blended learning.

 

The final three classroom models featured in our Blended Learning 102 guide allow students to easily access materials wherever and whenever they choose. By offering guidance, engagement, and instruction beyond the walls of a traditional classroom, students can find a fuller sense of autonomy and voice in their learning.

The common definition of the enriched virtual model is a course or subject in which students have required face-to-face learning sessions with a teacher and then are free to complete their remaining work remotely. Online learning is the backbone of student learning when the students are not in school. The same person generally serves as both the online and face-to-face teacher and students seldom meet face-to-face with their teachers every weekday. It differs from a fully online class because face-to-face learning sessions are more than optional office hours or social events; they are required.

The face-to-face sessions are often used to introduce the material and expectations or to complete more comprehensive assessments of learning. Often at the end of an enriched virtual model course, the students come together for a final session in which they present what they learned. This is how you might develop speaking and listening skills in a predominantly online learning environment.

An a la carte model, as the name implies, is a class that a student can choose to take entirely online to accompany other experiences they have at a traditional school or learning center. The teacher of record for the a la carte course is primarily an online teacher. Students may complete the learning activities either at school or at home. This differs from full-time online learning because it is not the only learning experience a student will have as the are still enrolled in traditional teacher-led classes as well. 

Both the a la carte and enriched virtual models are closer to online learning in the spectrum of blended learning and are more often used in higher grade levels. They are classified as blended learning because they still include limited face-to-face time with a teacher. An a la carte model often has mostly traditional face to face classes with an online course supplement whereas the enriched virtual model is mostly online with intermittent face-to-face interactions. 

Choosing an Enriched Virtual or A La Carte Model

Many of the reasons for choosing an enriched virtual model or an a la carte model are the same. Both models allow you to support student driven learning, develop self-management skills, and personalize learning through a wider range of course options. They can be used to accelerate credit accumulation, resolve scheduling constraints, or to support foundational learning skills. Often these models are used with “non-traditional” students. For example, over-age under-credited high school students that have had interrupted academic progress, may need courses that don’t fit into their traditional schedule. These models are also be helpful in rural areas, where some students have very long commutes to school.

Getting Started with an Enriched Virtual or A La Carte Model

To get started with the a la carte model or enriched model, you should identify the course needs at your school. Are there gaps in your course offerings? Have students become disengaged in the required courses? What are the interests? Do you have students who are far below grade level and need an additional course to meet their needs? You will also need to determine the teacher on record. Who will monitor student progress? Since the course itself is online, you will need to choose the software or online learning program you want to use. Kiddom supports these models by opening the channels of communication with students via Kiddom’s messaging tools on assignments. You could use Kiddom to schedule the face-to-face meetings and support students self-paced learning by simultaneously tracking their SEL competencies. As the teacher of record for an online course you can also provide actionable feedback in growth areas on specific skills and standards. 

Choosing a Flipped Classroom Model

One final blended learning model is the flipped classroom. In some ways, a flipped classroom is like a rotation model if you replace the “stations” with student homes, the library, or really, anywhere with an internet connection.

In place of traditional homework in which students are practicing what they learned in school, the homework is to prepare for projects, group work and discussions about what you learned at school. The delivery of content and instruction is all online, which differentiates a flipped classroom from students who are merely doing homework practice online after school.

A flipped classroom model is typically dependent on students having access to technology at home, which means it is not feasible for everyone. However, many schools have found ways to get around this barrier to a flipped classroom model with open computer lab hours after school and choosing resources that are viewable on a cell phone or tablet. Teachers who choose to implement a flipped classroom model often do so to free up more class time for in-depth projects and group work for the application of concepts learned. The amount of time needed for projects often deters traditional teachers from assigning them because of the limitations of the school day. The advantages of students accessing learning materials (usually videos) at home are the ability to pause, rewind, and rewatch material in the privacy of your own home. Initially students may not be adept at self-assessing their understanding and knowing when to review the materials. With the follow up in class, teachers can use the time to help students explore their own self awareness and alternative learning strategies.

Making sure students have done their homework is an age old battle that teachers continue to fight, even with new technology. Many teachers have expressed concerns about how to hold students accountable for completing digital work at home, which is an understandable fear. One strategy for holding students accountable is making space for them to watch the video or screencast in class when it is evident that they did not do it at home. For example, when a student asks a question on something that was explicitly covered in the instructional video, you may say something like, “Did you ask your digital teacher?” prompting them to find the answer in the instructional video in that moment.

By not answering questions that you already answered in the video, students will begin to understand that the time in class is reserved for taking learning to the next level. The result is more students accessing the lessons in advance so they do not have to be redirected in class.

A teacher’s role in a flipped classroom is less about direct instruction and more about facilitating student opportunities to demonstrate their learnings. Some teachers implementing flipped classrooms choose to record their own lessons to share with students. This may seem like a large time commitment, but if you consider the traditional middle or high school model where you teach the same lesson multiple times throughout the day, you are actually saving yourself time by only having to ‘deliver’ the lesson once. You may also choose to explore the plethora of existing lessons from open educational resources like the ones found in the Kiddom Library. Taking the time to find a reliable content provider can eliminate your need to record lessons yourself.

Getting Started with a Flipped Classroom Model

If you are interested in trying out a flipped model, the first step is to determine what and how students will access the learning materials. This clip from the video Blended Learning: Making it Work in Your Classroom shows how one teacher decided to record podcasts of her lessons for students to access at home. There are many options for recording lessons including;

  • Screencast-o-matic, which allows you to record your voice and what is showing on your screen
  • PowToon, a tool for creating animated videos
  • the voice narration options with Powerpoint.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel, though, so your first step may be finding the right lessons from the plethora of online resources already available.

Kiddom can support a flipped classroom model as a platform to share the self-recorded lessons with students or the tool to find great instructional videos. Students could access each night’s lessons on their Kiddom timeline. They also have the option to reach out to the teacher with any questions they may have prior to class. This would help guide teacher’s follow up in class the next day. Students are also able to access feedback from home and can view how they did on the in-class assignments and their overall progress.

Blended Learning with Kiddom

Kiddom’s free collaborative learning platform is ideal to introduce a blended learning model in your classroom. For teachers looking to enhance instruction by integrating digital content, Kiddom’s flexible tools adapt well for educators that utilize technology in a variety of different ways. And in true blended learning fashion, the Kiddom platform empowers students to take ownership of their education, build on 21st century skills, and engage in assignments tailored by their teachers to meet individual needs.

Kiddom’s platform is adaptable for teachers incorporating blended learning models for all learners, especially as teachers and students can engage in learning from anywhere with Kiddom’s mobile apps for iOS and Android.

This blog post is based on our Blended Learning 102 Guide. For more information, we encourage you to download it here.

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