The start of the school year presents a fresh opportunity to reflect on classroom instruction and explore new ways of creating engaging and effective learning in the year ahead. Unique to this school year, teachers and administrators are making an extra effort to shift the focus away from two years of disrupted, emergency teaching and are recentering around learning experiences that are individualized and empowering — for all students, no matter their learning style.
Even prior to the pandemic, blended learning was gaining momentum as one of the most effective modes of learning. Districts define blended learning many different ways, but at its core, this form of instruction is delivered partially through digital means, with some flexibility for students to choose the way they want to learn.
Schools interested in adopting blended learning pre-pandemic were met with roadblocks like device availability, teacher proficiency in technology usage, and the availability of online educational platforms. However, these roadblocks are now green lights in 2022 due to major shifts in education and federal/state funding. As a result, schools have the resources to implement blended learning with confidence, identify and address student learning gaps using actionable data, and demonstrate return on investment (ROI) on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund purchases.
What makes blended learning so effective?
Blended learning is celebrated as an effective instructional model because it leverages the abundance of devices and digital learning platforms, and adds to it the human interaction and teacher-led instruction that is paramount to student success. Blended learning allows teachers to spend more time face-to-face with smaller groups and individual students, building healthy relationships and student agency.
As we try to balance screentime moving forward, using technology to manage and enhance in-person instruction with blended learning offers huge benefits and is easily implemented. Some of these benefits include:
- Obtaining actionable data — Leveraging technology, teachers can collect actionable data via multiple types of assessment to inform next day instruction and differentiate student learning.
- Flexibility — Students have more agency and autonomy, and can manage transitions and materials; they also control the pace of their learning and can fast-forward, pause, and rewind content when needed.
- Creating deeper relationships — Small groups of students equals more focused face-to-face time between teacher and student. Teachers who effectively use blended learning have deeper human relationships with students as they become better acquainted with their needs and interests.
- Learning acceleration — Learning is continually reinforced and accelerated. As students cycle through online and offline stations, they are given multiple opportunities and modalities to master a standard and expand their knowledge.
Facilitating blended learning with GoGuardian Teacher
As a former CTO and certified blended learning coach, I've seen the impactful ways teachers use GoGuardian Teacher as a facilitator of blended learning instruction — even prior to the pandemic, and certainly since in-person learning has resumed.
- Differentiated instruction — GoGuardian Teacher allows teachers to create instructional groups, push individualized content to students via Scenes, and differentiate learning based on standards mastery.
- Multiple communication modes — GoGuardian Teacher enables teachers to communicate with the class at large, seamlessly and unobtrusively, while working with small groups.
- Group learning support — Students can be placed in groups that allow teachers to keep them engaged while completing learning tasks, and teachers can view student work in real time to assess progress and offer support.
- Thoughtful guardrails — GoGuardian Teacher frees up teachers to be mobile, always knowing they have a historical bird’s eye view of student device usage while working side-by-side with students.
ROI financially and educationally
One of the jobs of a CTO is to make the lives of teachers and students easier by automating tasks. In my many years as a CTO procuring and implementing platforms, I’ve never had teachers email or stop me in the hallway to thank me for adopting a platform — until GoGuardian Teacher. I received notes from teachers that said they could not have taught during the pandemic without GoGuardian Teacher and wanted to ensure they would still have access after the pandemic. Usage statistics are helpful, but on the ground feedback from teachers who use products everyday are most valuable.
While usage and cost are important when measuring return on investment, stakeholder feedback about products that are easy to implement and loved by educators is one of the many reasons we should be looking beyond usage when measuring ROI, and superintendents agree. At a recent summit of 50 superintendents across the nation, using technology to reduce teacher workload, ease of use, and intentionality in the use of classroom technology were three other priorities. Using GoGuardian Teacher as the backbone of blended learning optimizes student learning and resources in a 1:1 device, in-person learning environment.
As we continue to shape the future of education, one thing is certain: embracing new ways to enhance student learning holds endless possibilities.