Research

Support, PD Keys to Successful Classroom Tech Deployments

tips for blended learning teachers

Time, planning and support from schools and districts and ongoing professional development are key to getting the most of new technologies and tools introduced to the classroom, according to a new report from the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning (FBOL).

The report is based on surveys of nearly 700 educators from public schools, charter schools, private schools and alternative education programs, as well as from school and classroom observations by the authors and in-depth interviews with 11 different educators.

The survey was conducted online and available to any teacher who wished to respond and is not, therefore, nationally representative. Further, FBOL publicized the survey through avenues likely to reach teachers who were more experienced with technology than their average peers. "Therefore," according to the report's authors, "the results should be interpreted as representing the views of teachers who are further along in their adoption of technology than the average teacher."

Key findings of the report include:

  • 97 percent of respondents said they use computers in teaching;
  • About a third, 64 to 66 percent, said they use each of four different kinds of tools or strategies including student creation of documents, student collaboration, free online resources and online resources purchased by the school or district;
  • 61 percent said they use formative assessments and 58 percent said they use differentiated instruction;
  • 49 percent said they use a learning management system (LMS);
  • 41 percent said they use a data dashboard, which may be part of a larger technology platform such as an LMS or a student information system (SIS);
  • 66 percent said they use technology to replace or enhance paper-based activities;
  • On a 1-5 scale with 5 representing "completely transformed," 62 percent of respondents rated the impact of technology on their teaching a 4 or a 5 and 64 percent rated the impact on student performance a 4 or 5; and
  • Teachers who reported more experience with technology and more support from their school were more likely to report successful changes in their teaching practice.

Key recommendations and takeaways for the report include:

  • Teachers tend to value ways technology allows them to differentiate instruction or facilitate student collaboration;
  • Today's students are not necessarily as comfortable with technology as is widely assumed;
  • Technology advances more quickly than people and their systems, so it's important to stick with a particular strategy and support it; and
  • Teachers should feel comfortable adjusting blended learning concepts to suit their own strengths and situations.

"Teachers are using technology to support their own instruction and to advance the achievement of their students," said John Watson, founder of Evergreen Education Group, in a prepared statement. "While their implementation can range from the very simple to the extremely complex, all involved in this transition have valuable insight into the risks and rewards to share. This report provides a view of the current shared educator experience, as well as recommendations for the next generation of teachers adopting technology into their practice."

To access the full report, visit blendedandonlinelearning.org.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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