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Blended learning: Step by step

Learn how to get started on your blended-learning journey with these tips.

3 min read

Voice of the Educator



Chances are that, by now, you have read something about the effectiveness of Blended-learning environments, about the teachers who employ such learning spaces to enhance student learning, and why they do it.

But that does not bring you, our everyday teacher on the street, much closer to understanding how to integrate blended learning strategies into your teaching, in your school’s context to benefit your students.

Luckily, the internet is loaded with resources relevant to blended learning provided by reliable providers (see below). However, lack of access to tools and tricks is rarely the obstacle stalling curious teachers who approach a new teaching strategy: establishing a new mindset is. Put simply: where does one begin?

The best way to jumpstart a blended-learning mindset is to remember that, just like educational technology, blended learning is a means and not an end. Think about what you want to accomplish in your classroom and then adopt and adapt blended learning tools and strategies that allow you to achieve your goals. For example:  


Blended Learning Solution


You want to better organize and share your curriculum.



Develop your expertise in Google Apps for Education. Learn how to save and share files so that students have permanent access to their materials so they can collaborate on their assignments, then complete and submit their individual and team work asynchronously as well as in class.


You want to adopt a mastery approach to learning and assessment.


Familiarize yourself with tools like EDpuzzle, Kahoot, JunoEd and Memrise that allow students to quiz themselves, review their work, and then re-test as necessary—often with little to no intervention from you.



You want more 1-1, personalized instructional time with your students.


Break your class up into pods, and rather than directly instructing from the front of the room, meet with each pod of 3-5 students individually. You will accomplish much more in 10-15 minutes of close instruction than you would in 45 minutes of kill and drill.

What are your other students doing? See goals #1 & #2 for ideas, or skip down to goals #4 & #5 for a preview of how to address another common issue.



You want to foster peer to peer and self-guided instruction and inquiry.



While you are coaching one pod of students, you could give the others time to work on tech-based mastery learning activities or their homework—or you could assign them small group discussion topics, prep work for their turn meeting with you, or other pod-level assignments.



You want to decrease or abolish homework.



See all of the above!

As you may have noticed, by adopting one or two of the strategies above, you open up room to add others, achieving more goals and enhancing learning further. You’ve heard it before: “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” Take your first today.

Bill Tolley, a New York Times Teacher Who Makes a Difference, and a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University, is currently a teacher and learner at the International School of Beijing and a staff blogger for the Center for Teaching Quality. His professional interests include innovative learning strategies, future-building and redefining learning space/time. He is eager to participate in professional learning networks worldwide. Connect with him @wjtolley.


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