One of my personal goals during graduate school is to become more familiar with educational technology and to develop a clear philosophy about how I should use technology in my teaching. Though I am learning more about the benefits that may come from integrating technology into my curriculum, I cannot bring myself to fully support online education or even certain forms of blended education that put the focus of learning on computer screens. While others may view a row of students working on computers as an indication of engagement, personalization, and efficiency, I see the potential for isolation and a loss of the classroom community spirit that can make learning experiences memorable.
Blended Learning Benefits
Despite my hesitation to let technology take center stage in my classroom, I do see the potential for blended learning to help differentiate some components of instruction. In an English class, the flipped classroom model, in which students view instructional material at home and then practice at school, could be particularly helpful for grammar lessons. Some high school students still need a significant amount of direct grammar instruction while other students have a strong grasp on many grammar principles. I could give students a grammar pre-test and then assign different videos for different students, depending on their learning needs. They could then practice individually or in small groups in class while receiving feedback or additional instruction from me.
Blended Learning Challenges
Unfortunately, after a bit of searching online, I have reached the conclusion that there is a lack of engaging grammar videos for high school students. There are some resources available, such as the Gotham Writers’ Workshop Videos, which cover several grammar principles, but if I commit to flipping my grammar instruction, I would most likely make my own videos. Of course, creating enough grammar videos for a full year would be challenging, but a part of me thinks it might be fun to create interesting (and humorous) grammar tutorials of my own.
Developing the materials for flipped instruction is not the only inherent challenge in this model of instruction. As with any technology-based approach, I would need to ensure that all of my students had access to technology at some point outside of my class, whether at home, during a study hall, after school in my classroom, or at the library.
Blended Learning Summary
I do not believe that incorporating technology in education is either essentially good or essentially bad. A technology-based approach to education will be the right choice if it helps my students achieve the specific learning goals for a certain lesson or unit of study. Traditional grammar instruction has not always been effective, so I am excited to see if flipping grammar around can turn my students’ grammar skills around as well.