We are living in strange times which has meant that the line between the physical classroom and the virtual have increasingly blurred. The blended classroom model suits the modern demands of society, and there are plenty of apps, resources and pieces of tech to help teachers make the most of education in the classroom and online.
In this piece, we’ll pinpoint seven areas where technology can improve the blended classroom experience, along with a couple of places you can start.
7 places to bring technology into the blended classroom
Bring a fresh injection to your blended classroom with these seven techie ideas.
1. Lean on online resources
The internet is an endless pool of information and resource. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can unlock a treasure trove of informative content that can inform your classroom instruction.
There are lots of resource banks you can draw on, but Khan Academy is a great place to start. It has thousands of video tutorials on everything from grammar to computer programming. The content is universal but if you find it a little too US-centric you could take a look at trusty BBC Bitesize or edpuzzle, which allows you to make any video into a lesson.
Introducing online resources is great as part of a rotational blended learning environment. You might start with teacher-led instruction before reinforcing what you’ve taught online with a video that approaches the subject of the lesson from a different angle. Pupils can then put that instruction into action with an activity or task.
2. Manage your classes
As soon as you move beyond the physical classroom and past pen and paper-based learning, it can quickly become difficult to manage the more administrative side of teaching.
Using a tool like Google Classroom can streamline the online side of blended learning. You can create, distribute and grade assignments, make announcements to the class and store relevant classroom materials digitally. It’s also a great way to involve other stakeholders like parents, as they can also be made aware of assignments and announcements via email.
There are plenty of options out there that provide this kind of service, but Google Classroom may be a good place to start given the ease at which you can sign-up and jump right in.
3. Give them some praise
Recognising and acknowledging student success is always a huge part of fostering better progress. When students succeed in the online parts of the blended classroom, you can reward them using a digital badges system. Much like you might give a student a gold star if they ace their latest test, digital badges can provide that much needed recognition that a child is doing a good job. Digital badges can go as deep as your imagination will take them. Consider the quiet pupil who offered an answer during a lesson, or the child who put in excellent levels of effort.
4. Show the world
Social media sites and the power of blogging is another way of showcasing student excellence whilst further involving technology in the blended classroom. Does your school have a blog or similar creative area where students can post their work or share their thoughts with an audience? Do you have school social media channels where you can display student talent to the world?
If so, take advantage and harness these digital platforms to give students a chance to showcase their work.
5. Create interactive quizzes and games
You can scour the web for exactly the right quiz to fit the requirements of your lesson, but why not just make your own? There are plenty tools available online that allow you to make your own interactive quizzes and games.
Take Kahoot as an example. The teacher uploads their lesson presentation and can instantly add quiz questions and polls to inject a fun, interactive element. It’ll keep your students engaged for longer and reinforce their learning in real time.
6. Use video conferencing
Turn your lessons into webinars so when students return to the digital elements of blended learning, they can revisit the lesson and review its content on their smartphones or tablets. They could always mine the informational well on YouTube to find what they need too.
Even when everyone is sat in class, you could take advantage of video conferencing. Teachers looking for experts or different perspectives on a subject are no longer confined to people who can attend the physical classroom. With a tool as simple as Google Hangouts, you could video in an expert on any given topic to speak to your class. And they could do it all from the comfort of their own home.
7. Hand them the tools
Aside from technology to help out us teachers, there are plenty of other apps that pupils may find helpful on their education journey.
One that might be of interest is Quizlet. An app that can be downloaded on a child’s tablet or their parent’s smartphone, Quizlet allows users to create digital flashcards and track your progress as you improve your knowledge.
One final technology tip – photomath. Available as a tablet or smartphone app, photomath uses your camera to recognise a maths problem that’s written down on paper. Rather than just giving you the answer, it offers a step-by-step guide on the mechanics required to solve that equation.
For students having trouble memorising key events in history or replicating maths solutions across different equations, these take-home apps are ideal for boosting understanding away from your educational instruction.