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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blended learning helps students prepare for the real world, educators say by Mike Lesko

Mike Lesko writes, "Online learning is here to stay.
So says Maureen Haska, the instructional technology specialist for Streetsboro City Schools."

Photo: Gateway News

"If we don't teach our students how to successfully use learning management systems, they will struggle when they go to college and or enter the real world," she said.
A learning management system, in which students can participate in a class from anywhere they have Internet access, took a step forward this school year after the Streetsboro City Schools received an $80,000 blended learning grant last spring from ETech of Ohio, which is part of the Ohio Department of Education. Streetsboro was one of only six high schools in the state to receive the grant.

It allowed the district to acquire, among other things, 30 computers for students and 16 laptop computers for the teachers who are participating in the program along with a wall projector and a "distance learning unit," which is a "real-time video conferencing system in high definition, according to Steve Cain, the district's technology director. "It's remarkable technology," Cain said. "Instead of watching something on the Internet, it allows you to interact."

In addition, Cain said 25 percent of the grant money is required to be used on professional development "so we can make it more interesting for the students."

Kent State University Dr. Cindy Kovalik, who is working with the school district on professional development, said blended learning is "any combination of traditional classroom student-teacher interaction coupled with many or few online components."

"Blended learning can be designed so that students do some activities on their own online and some activities in the classroom," said Kovalik, a KSU assistant professor in lifespan development and educational sciences.

"For example, a teacher may structure a class so that students are in the classroom two or three times a week, and on the other days, students complete what they need to do online," Kovalik said. "If you envision a horizontal line with traditional classroom instruction on one end and a 100 percent online course at the other end, blended learning can be anywhere between those two points."

Source: Gateway News