Welcome to Leading Blended Learning

"The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means to an education." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Starting another school year...

In a two weeks, teachers will be back at school doing all the regular getting ready for Open House and the first day things that we do before welcoming students on August 1.  For the past three years, we have been attempting to create a blended learning environment for our students.  We have pushed our teachers beyond their limits of creativity, technological savvy, and willingness to work with dated machines and a lack of training and knowledge.  And they have risen to the challenge.  They have created meaningful work for students in our LMS, they have learned to manage it well, and they have learned that there is power to using software that promotes and supports learning beyond the school day.  They have also learned that limited resources truly limits what can be accomplished. 

I have lamented on this blog before, how difficult it has been to implemented our version of a blended learning school when we have 60 laptops (20 of which don't really work and another 10 that are missing so many keys that they might as well not work) and one computer lab for teachers to show kids how to gain access to the LMS, what the work is, what it looks and feels like, and maybe even to do work on.  It has been a mighty struggle to personalize education and to harness the power of an LMS and coursework and instruction that is digital and automated when kids can't get to it.  Its been even more of a struggle trying to turn my dedicated teachers into developers.  Our district doesn't have the funds to buy hardware and they surely don't have the funds or the will to buy content for our online course work beyond a great math intervention tool that is purchased for our special education students.

There is high hopes that we will be able to do more as the special purpose local option sales tax is floated to the community in November that we will raise the money to outfit schools with the basics needed to really start to fly.  But, we aren't there yet. 

As I watch the two symposia responsibility for assessment under RT3 and I watch our state DOE develop evaluation systems based on survey data and value added growth assessments and I watch the cheating scandal in Atlanta unfold, I am struck that technology could really provide efficient and effective tools to combat some of the logistical problems associated with all of those items.  The discussions and cultural shifts that go along with the logistical issues are clearly leadership challenges that will push our ability to understand adult learning theory and change theory.  But, many of the solutions that technology answers require their to be end user devices in the hands of the students and teachers.  It requires their to be bandwidth to give students with those devices to access the Internet and the web-based tools they need to do the productive work of learning. 

We have a fairly well off district.  We are not considered poor, although we are inching our way in that direction as the housing boom continues to send after-shocks from the fall out.  We are better off than most in the State of Georgia.  We have been good stewards of our dollars.  There are one hundred other districts in Georgia in a similar or worse position.  There are countless districts around the country who may have the will, but not the way to adopt technology tools that could really disrupt and innovate. 

I am waiting for it....

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