Blended learning – the convergence of teaching strategies and technology

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation announced a $5 million grant to establish a pair of Doceõ Centers for Innovation + Learning at two Idaho universities, one public and one private.  The Doceõ Centers at the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University will focus on blended learning – the convergence of teaching strategies and technology.

Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms
Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms

“We want to help equip and train the next generation of teachers to improve student achievement in Idaho,” says Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.  ”Students at all grade levels desperately need teachers who, not only don’t fear technology, but embrace it to help students adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

The Doceõ Centers will be launched in the spring of 2013.  In addition to cutting-edge training for Idaho teacher candidates, the Centers will also offer development training on blended learning techniques as well as opportunities to participate in classroom research projects for current preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers and administrator professionals.  Reports on research conducted at the Centers will be published semi-annually and a conference will be hosted annually.

Eric Kellerer, Ed.D., director of the NNU Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, says that for the last 20 years, educators were promised that technology would transform education.

“At the same time, we have seen huge leaps in understanding the process of learning (the pedagogy) for students.  Unfortunately, those two themes, technology and pedagogy, have failed to come together,” explains Dr. Kellerer.   “This is the time.  We stand at the precipice of a generation in which there will be a convergence of the technical with the educational.”

According to Dr. Paul T. Hill, founder of the Center for Reinventing Public Education and research professor at the University of Washington, Idaho would be the first state to revamp its schools of education around blended learning.  Dr. Hills says that even modest success would make Idaho a national leader.

“We can’t get better outcomes for the kids who are not learning without doing things differently,” says Dr. Hill.  “Moreover, for the kids who are doing okay in school now, the bar is continually being set higher by a dynamic economy and international competition.  If our highest achieving kids are to be fully prepared, we need to keep updating our schools’ methods and modernizing what is taught.”

Corinne Mantle-Bromley, dean of the University of Idaho’s College of Education, said the centers are an important step forward in helping Idaho and other states gain a much deeper understanding of technology’s role in student learning.  Research and evaluation of research findings will help inform the education community and identify the most effective strategies for blending technology into teaching, Mantle-Bromley said.

Recommended reading: Blended Learning in Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms

“A must have for any teacher who wants to connect with students who are either reluctant to participate in class or who have everything to say. The book’s tools provide a welcome segue into their terrain and show you how to master it. Included are many ideas and suggestions for bringing the Internet into your classroom and harnessing its power for the benefit of your students.” (Melody Aldrich, English Teacher and Department Chair 2012-01-25)

“This book comes at the right time with answers for teachers, principals, and schools who want to be on the cutting edge of the effective use of technology, the internet, and teacher pedagogy.” (Jim Anderson, Principal 2012-01-25)

“This book provides a wealth of information related to teaching in a blended classroom. Designed for 21st century educators, this text is a powerful and valuable resource for those that want to challenge, engage, and facilitate learning for all students.” (Judy Brunner, Clinical Faculty, Author, Consultant 2012-01-25)

“This book will appeal to a wide range of educators and provide them with the foundation for creating a perfect blend for their classrooms.” (David Callaway, 7th-Grade Social Studies Teacher 2012-01-25)

“This book will help teachers move their students online while maintaining effective teaching practices!” (Cathy Bonneville Hix, K-12 Social Studies Specialist 2012-01-25)

Catlin Tucker takes on the questions that serve as teachers’ biggest barriers in exploring what technology can bring to their professional experiences. Questions of assessment, time, and access, as well as practical suggestions for how to begin working with modern collaborative resources, serve to guide teachers through the philosophical and pedagogical challenges of exploring the promise of blended learning. (Rushton Hurley, Executive Director)

“In Blended Learning in Grades 4-12, Tucker takes on the questions that serve as teachers’ biggest barriers to exploring what technology can bring to their professional experiences. Too often, exploration of educational technology is more about the tools than the learning, and consequently it is a pleasure to read this book in which inspiring and empowering students serves as the primary frame for discussion. The skilled examination of the larger question of how to teach well using whatever one has will make Tucker’s book a valuable resource for teachers for a long time to come.” (Rushton Hurley, Executive Director 2012-04-09)

“This book shows teachers how to use technology and blended learning practices to blend online discussion with face-to-face classroom instruction.” (Midwest Book Review, September 2012)

“What makes this funding so important is the research component. We will constantly be studying new, emerging technology tools. Research findings will provide classroom teachers and school administrators with powerful information on best practices. We will work closely with teachers as we study technology and its impact on P-12 student learning,” said Mantle-Bromley.

Paula Kellerer, Ed.D., dean of the School of Education, Social Work and Counseling at Northwest Nazarene University emphasizes that blended learning is not about utilizing the latest and greatest technology in the classroom–it’s about providing personalized learning for kids.

“The ultimate objective of the centers is to improve student achievement in P-12 classrooms through the effective use of technology,” says Dr. Kellerer.  “It’s not about finding one solution that fits all, but finding many solutions that can be used at the right time for the right student.  Every student can learn.  Every student can succeed.  We are here to help teachers find resources, equip them to use those resources effectively and to share the stories of success with other teachers, with Idaho, and the Northwest.”

Idaho has significant student achievement challenges.  The state ranks 47th in the nation for the percentage of high school graduates who go on to some form of education beyond high school and 46th for the percentage of college students who progress from their freshman year to sophomore year.

“We cannot stand back and be passive observers,” says Dr. Eric Kellerer.  “We need to get in the fray.  Idaho can be the leader in ushering in a new day in teaching and learning.”

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is a Boise-based, private family foundation committed to limitless learning for all Idahoans.  Since 1997, the Foundation has invested more than $500 million to improve education in Idaho.

Northwest Nazarene University is a nonprofit Christian university located in Nampa, Idaho.  NNU offers over 60 areas of study, master’s degree programs in eleven disciplines, accelerated degree programs, concurrent credit for high school students, and a variety of continuing education credits. In addition to its 90-acre campus located in Nampa, the University also offers programs online as well as in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and in cooperation with programs in 10 countries.

The University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho, is home to more than 12,000 students and nearly 3,159 faculty and staff.  U-Idaho continues to be a leading place of learning in Idaho and the West.  Students from all 44 Idaho counties, 49 states (plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) and 73 foreign countries are enrolled at the University.

Why Doceõ?  Doceõ is the Latin word for “to teach”.

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