Social Media in the Classroom

Blended Learning Environments: The Future Role of Technology in the Classroom


Last year I read a read an online story about some teachers who were flipping their classrooms.  I do not recall the school in question, however, a comparable example of a flipped school could be Clintondale High school in Michigan.  I found this an interesting perspective, and an unique perspective to the use of technology in the furtherance of student understanding.  I tried to flip a unit in my own classroom to see if this was something that would benefit my practice and subsequent student success…it didn’t.  There were probably many ,many reasons why I didn’t experience success, not the least of which was only trying it once, however the bigger difference, from my perspective is the difference between flipped learning and a flipped classroom.

While my experience was not as successful as I might have liked it to be,  It did cause me to think about how technology will ultimately end up, in the foreseeable future anyway, manifesting itself in the classroom.  This became the focus in my search for a review piece this week.  In the end I settled on a video featuring Monique Markoff speaking at Ithica college on the concept of blended teaching and learning.

Blended learning , as the video identifies, is the integration of technology to facilitate learning, not the focus of learning.  Markoff suggests in the video that the goal of a blended environment is to use technology as a learning device not a device to be learned.  A subtle difference but one that should be considered.  How often do we as teachers have students research using, texts books and magazines in order to create a PowerPoint, MovieMaker, or some other platform?  Too often the amount of time spent learning the animation and methods to convert backgrounds into eye dissolving combinations of fuchsia and lime green, far exceeds that given to accessing individual methods of source information and medium to use as presentation.  Worse still is the possibility that the assessment links more to the tool than to the message.  This truly is the medium becoming the message in the truest sense of the word.

Identifying that this is not best practice in the implementation of technology Markoff identifies different models of technology integration into the classroom, with the traditional ‘everyone get a computer’ model as only one of the potential methods to allow students the opportunity to interact with technology in a more self determined way.  Markoff identifies a number of models (2:49) ranging from the rotational model which allows for multiple orientations from student to peer, to student to teacher, or student to technology.  Perhaps most important is the assurance that there is no one way that incorporating blended learning is right or wrong.  Rather that true blended learning occurs in a flexible environment that is willing and able to take risks and make changes when things are not working.  This to me presents one of the biggest challenges to teachers and the integration of technology.  Hesitation for risk taking.

There is tremendous pressure on teachers to get results, abandoning a plan midway through its execution would probably throw most teachers into a state of panic.  Yet ‘how’ technology, ‘what’ technology and ‘when’ to use technology will not always, if ever, follow the plans that we create, regardless of our greatest intentions.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter which app is the newest or greatest, if there is preconceived beliefs about technology on any of the stakeholder parts, there will be hiccups in the process.  All members may have to abandon notions of value, or what is, or is not, educational in order to find the best way to integrate technology into the classroom.

I have to admit that I struggle with some notions myself.  I share Cindy Adams concerns on ‘authentic’student motivation, when choosing a reward as a motivator vs some internal compass then guides us to make decisions around our learning.  Or as Barbara DeWitt identified in her blog on the evolution of language…why can’t students just change their ‘txting 2 read RL wrds’?  These concerns exist in my concepts of education and technology and are as foreign to students as as theirs may be to me.  Letting go of some of these and taking that risk of potential failure is key to finding out how technology will not just be a branch of our instruction.

As mentioned in the outset, I tried flipping a class… I failed, but out of that failure my class found aspects of success.  There is more to the integration of any technology than simply introducing an app or hyper-linking a website.  buzz-words and trends are useless without input and tailoring from educators who are looking to ultimately advance students learning.  After all technology, regardless of how flashy it maybe will fail as quickly as traditional chalkboard lessons, if not tailored to the students it is intended to reach.


Author: 2014shaunhorsman

Teacher seeking to better implement and understand the role of technology in the classroom... and outside the classroom.

2 thoughts on “Blended Learning Environments: The Future Role of Technology in the Classroom

  1. I really enjoyed your post, and your willingness to share the stumbles you have made trying to incorporate something like flipping a classroom. I had the same experience! The difficulties I had was pre-planning too far ahead, and realizing later that this wasn’t the right direction and/or instructional method (inquiry) that would best meet the needs of my particular class. Workload became too difficult to plan far enough ahead where I could share content ahead of time. Many of my students also either didn’t have access to internet at home, or didn’t have families at home that could help support this model.
    Thanks, enjoy reading your observations, and your references are always worth a watch. Cheers


  2. Hey nice post. I hope it’s alright that I shared it
    on my Twitter, if not, no issues just let me know and I’ll delete it.
    Either way keep up the good work.


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