Reflection on the Blended Learning Competency Framework
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) have helped develop the iNACOL Blended Learning Teacher Competency Framework (available here).
In reading through this framework I was struck by a very simple sentence in the Preface, “central to its development was the belief that teachers can and are agents of learning and innovation in their communities.” It was so refreshing to read this. I often don’t feel like the academic world, government leaders, and my District administrators truly believe this. The lip service is always given, but over and over teachers are left out of the conversations that drive learning and innovation and as a result we are over in our little world hypothesizing, testing, and refining our practice while this whole other world of academics, government, and “leadership” works in a parallel universe that throws sparks and heat when the two meet. I’ve been a bit jaded lately due my specific District leadership so this all may be a reflection of that.
Blended Learning is when education is done using online resources as well as traditional classroom means. Differentiating and personalizing instruction is difficult in the traditional classroom. Students have so many different backgrounds, situations, and abilities. Blended learning offers teachers and students the ability to differentiate and personalize instruction in ways that used to be impossible.
The Blended Learning Framework encourages educators to move toward a competency based model where mastery of skills and knowledge is the goal rather than one-size-fits-all schedules and sequences of lessons. I find this refreshing, but at the same time a daunting task. I know I need to move down this path with my teaching but it always seems like I fall back on old patterns and things I have always done because they are secure. When things get busy, as they always do, innovation gets set aside for a later time.
As a physics teacher, I love using Phet interactive simulations in my blended classroom. I find so often that real, live experiments often turn out to be more about the skill of measuring, than learning. Even something like measuring the acceleration of gravity gives results that are all over the place when kids do it. I like to contrast experiments with simulation where experimental errors are removed, so the students can get right down to the physics.
For my media students, I often use Lynda.com, Youtube videos, videos that I create, and web pages I create with step by step instructions for them to follow. I have a whole page of lessons on a variety of topics and skills that I keep up to date for any of our academy students to access whenever they need help.
I looked around and found Photzy.com and Lightstalking.com as two possible places to send my students to for photography lessons. I tend to try to create way too much as a teacher rather than use what is out there and Photzy.com and Lightstalking.com have some great lessons and photo guides on different aspects of photography.
I am also looking for online mentors for my students. This is an ongoing search. If I could get a few photographers that would like to look at student work and critique and comment on photos, maybe do a hangout with us, it would be great. I’m not just looking for photographers, I need filmmakers and other digital artists as well.